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Skeptic Summary #236

By The Staff
Posted on: 5/16/2009

Another missing link, tearing into the Bible, Libertarianism, truth in advertising, more atheism, visual illusions and more!

Week ending May 16, 2009 (Vol 6, #18)

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:
Darwinius masillae - The danger of calling anything a “link.”

Taking apart the Bible, with scholarship - How does one leave faith?

Why Michael Shermer is a Libertarian - And Communism works, too, in theory.

Editor’s Choice: The Apology Institute - What we’d see if truth-in-advertising laws were stronger.

From the Archives: Does skepticism default to atheism? - Chaloobi reframes the atheist/agnostic discussion…

Kil’s Evil Pick:
5th Annual Best Visual Illusions of the Year Contest — The top three winners for 2009 have been announced. About the Contest:
The contest is a celebration of the ingenuity and creativity of the world’s premier visual illusion research community. Visual illusions are those perceptual experiences that do not match the physical reality. Our perception of the outside world is generated indirectly by brain mechanisms, and so all visual perception is illusory to some extent. The study of visual illusions is therefore of critical importance to the understanding of the basic mechanisms of sensory perception, as well as to cure many diseases of the visual system. The visual illusion community includes visual scientists, ophthalmologists, neurologists, and visual artists that use a variety of methods to help discover the neural underpinnings of visual illusory perception.

The contest consists of three stages: submission, initial review, gala presentation and election of winners. To submit an illusion, see the Submission page. The initial review will be done by a panel of impartial judges, who will narrow the submissions down to the Top Ten best entries. The Top Ten finalists will present their illusions at the gala celebration in Naples, Florida. The attendees of the gala (that means you!) will vote to choose the First, Second, and Third prize winners from the Top Ten finalists!

The Best Visual Illusion of the Year contest is a one-of-a-kind event and its infrastructure and methods are copyrighted and service marked. Please donate your financial support to the contest (only $1 each year will help!) and help us promote vision science and research discoveries throughout the world.
As you probably know if you keep up with my picks, I do love this sort of thing. The site also includes links to the winning entries from prior years, so there is plenty to look at if your eyes can take it. Have fun!!!

Warning: Some ideologies on the Net are smaller than they appear.
— Seth Finkelstein

Chat Highlights:
Wednesday: A new article on RNA and abiogenesis kicked things off. Then computers, leet speak and ancient $5,000 graphics cards, followed by the future of computing. Of course, this led into the future of the Internet with Web 2.0, AJAX and more social networking sites than you can shake a fist at. When boron10 dropped by, talk switched over to guitars: Kil got his hands on a broken Strat that requires fixing. The remainder of chat was spent on forum talk, mostly about the NSCE thread.

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:
Panchali Banerjee

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
5 minutes with Dawkins

10 Animals Named After Celebrities

Awfulholic: Rev Guarana

Cardinal Cormack Murphy-O’Connor thinks you aren’t fully human

Computer loos offer convenience

Elephants&rsquo Wings

The Jenny McCarthy Song

Jenny McCarthy’s relationship with poo

The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters

Robot Bugs Accepted by Cockroaches as Their Own

Speculation, hypothesis and ideas. But where’s the evidence?

Truths that must remain unsaid

U.S. military destroys soldier’s Bibles

What’s New by Bob Park

Got some skeptic news items? Send them to us, and we’ll think about adding them.
In light of the fact that this week saw the removal of the famous Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 from the Hubble Space Telescope after 16 years of service, Ethen Siegel crafted a five-part tribute, covering the universe, planets, galaxies, gravitational lensing and dark matter and stars.

Book of the Week:
The Monty Hall Problem: The Remarkable Story of Math’s Most Contentious Brain Teaser, by Jason Rosenhouse.

“Mathematicians call it the Monty Hall Problem, and it is one of the most interesting mathematical brain teasers of recent times. Imagine that you face three doors, behind one of which is a prize. You choose one but do not open it. The host — call him Monty Hall — opens a different door, always choosing one he knows to be empty. Left with two doors, will you do better by sticking with your first choice, or by switching to the other remaining door? In this light-hearted yet ultimately serious book, Jason Rosenhouse explores the history of this fascinating puzzle. Using a minimum of mathematics (and none at all for much of the book), he shows how the problem has fascinated philosophers, psychologists, and many others, and examines the many variations that have appeared over the years. As Rosenhouse demonstrates, the Monty Hall Problem illuminates fundamental mathematical issues and has abiding philosophical implications. Perhaps most important, he writes, the problem opens a window on our cognitive difficulties in reasoning about uncertainty.”

— 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. Possum on the half shell
  5. Dracorex hogwartsia
  6. Is the NCSE too accommodating to religion?
  7. Quote Mine warning propaganda poster
  8. The shallow end of the gene pool…
  9. Beelzebufo ampinga
  10. Same-sex marriage thoughts
  1. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  2. Evolving a Venom or Two
  3. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  4. Skeptic Summary #152
  5. Scientific Truth
  6. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  7. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  8. Skeptic Summary #235
  9. Miracle Thaw Tray
  10. N. 6, January 2001: Split brains, paradigm shifts, and why it is so difficult to be a skeptic
There were 19,057 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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