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Skeptic Summary #233

By The Staff
Posted on: 4/25/2009

AiG, Shermer, Hawking, Phelps (no, not that one), a smoldering gun, the Shroud and more!

Week ending April 25, 2009 (Vol 6, #15)

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:
Answers in Genesis sinks to a new low - I’m actually starting to miss Kent Hovind.

Shermer’s fantasies - Even skeptics have epic fails, sometimes.

Stephen Hawking ill, hospitalized - But the cyborg will not be stopped!

Editor’s Choice: The incredible & brave Nate Phelps! - Go, Nate, go!

From the Archives: Building 7: the smoking gun of the 9/11 inside job - Your one-stop shopping thread for one of the worst arguments in favor of a government conspiracy.

Kil’s Evil Pick:
Unraveling the Shroud of Turin,” by Steven D. Schafersman — What with the Shroud being in the news of late, I thought it might be a good time to look at how thoughly it has been debunked. The Schafersman article goes back a few years, but no matter. The Shroud is possibly the most investigated piece of cloth in history, and really, the latest debunkings are reiterations of the already obvious. Plus, I liked this particular article on the subject. It opens:
This paper has two purposes: First, a response to the specific statements by Paul Maloney about the alleged pollen on the Shroud of Turin, and second, a brief summary of the convincing empirical evidence that makes it clear that the Shroud is a fourteenth-century artifact and not a first-century archaeological object. The Shroud of Turin is a notorious religious relic that, without the tremendous pseudoscientific support put forward in recent years to popularize its authenticity, would be as ignored and ridiculed by reasonable people today as are pieces of the true cross and nail clippings and foreskins of Jesus. The past efforts by some individuals, with scientific or technical training and access to scientific equipment, to promote the Shroud’s authenticity by presenting irrelevant, misinterpreted, fudged, and even fraudulent data and interpretations — while at the same time ignoring, misunderstanding, misrepresenting, and clumsily explaining-away reliable evidence against authenticity — are nothing short of astonishing, and have put the Turin Shroud firmly in the pantheon of pseudoscience. The saddest aspect of the Shroud story is that these unfortunate efforts continue today — as if evidence, logical reasoning, skepticism, and analytical thinking are irrelevant when religious relics are concerned.
Read on…

Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory.
— Leonardo da Vinci

Chat Highlights:
Wednesday: In an attempt to write the chat summary in a timely manner, Ricky ended up writing it before chat even occurred. What resulted was mass confusion as Ricky attempted to guide chat to fit his summary. Chat started with Steven Wright quotes, mathematics and the economy. Michelle hijacked Kil’s computer and next thing we knew Kil was in a dress, which led to The Lumberjack Song. After this followed a rather peculiar discussion on sodas and in particular root beer, including the history of its ingredients. Then various web comics: Something*Positive, Sinfest, Questionable Content, Dr. McNinja and Atheist Cartoons. Chat ended with international affairs.

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
Darwin’s Rottweiler

Fire Marshall Bill discusses vaccines and autism on The Huffington Post

From fish oil to the snake oil of fake trials

Genesis of a climate change disinformation meme, News Corp style

Giant mystery blob found near dawn of time

Heavyweights of science worry over religious appeasement by pro-evolution group

Hitler’s giant cattle now in UK

HuffPo hits a new low — medical infomercials

McLeroy put on the hot seat by Texas Senate committee

Michele Bachmann Says C02 is Harmless

The More Things Change…

San Francisco Historians Condemn 1906 Earthquake Deniers

Shane Murphy, Freed Pirate Hostage, Slams “Disgusting” Rush Limbaugh

Skepticality #99 — Confessions of an Alien Hunter

Skepticality #100 — Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, and Something Blue…

Swedish spruce tree is 3,500 years older than Biblical Creation

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 Evolution Is True, by Jerry A. Coyne.

“Why evolution is more than just a theory: it is a fact.

In all the current highly publicized debates about creationism and its descendant ‘intelligent design,’ there is an element of the controversy that is rarely mentioned — the evidence, the empirical truth of evolution by natural selection. Even Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould, while extolling the beauty of evolution and examining case studies, have not focused on the evidence itself. Yet the proof is vast, varied, and magnificent, drawn from many different fields of science. Scientists are observing species splitting into two and are finding more and more fossils capturing change in the past — dinosaurs that have sprouted feathers, fish that have grown limbs.

Why Evolution Is True weaves together the many threads of modern work in genetics, paleontology, geology, molecular biology, and anatomy that demonstrate the ‘indelible stamp’ of the processes first proposed by Darwin. In crisp, lucid prose accessible to a wide audience, Why Evolution Is True dispels common misunderstandings and fears about evolution and clearly confirms that this amazing process of change has been firmly established as a scientific truth.”

— Product Description

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. The Supper
  2. PZ expelled from Expelled — Dawkins slips in!
  3. Stop laughing, dammit! This is serious shit!
  4. Stephen Hawking ill, hospitalized
  5. Possum on the half shell
  6. The shallow end of the gene pool…
  7. Beelzebufo ampinga
  8. We’d invite Hitler to speak, says Columbia dean
  9. Spider bite cures paralyzed man?
  10. A half of a wing & a piece of a prayer
  1. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  2. Evolving a Venom or Two
  3. Skeptic Summary #152
  4. The PQ Test
  5. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  6. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  7. Miracle Thaw Tray
  8. SkeptiCamp Atlanta: A Personal Overview
  9. Evolution is a Lie
  10. Cold Reading
There were 13,886 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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