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Skeptic Summary #247

By The Staff
Posted on: 8/2/2009

Skeptic intro, absolutely nuts, deceptive movie, Unscientific America again, a user-friendly tree-of-life and more!

Week ending August 01, 2009 (Vol 6, #29)

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:
Good introduction to skepticism? - Join the quest for a video to convert the heathens…

Moral absolutes? - Absolute baloney.

New movie, more Expelled-type deceptions - More reviews that are devastating.

Editor’s Choice: Unscientific America - Must be the atheists’ fault.

Kil’s Evil Pick:
Interactive Tree of Life
Explore the evolutionary links between living things with the Wellcome Trust’s Tree of Life, developed as part of our Darwin 200 activities, which celebrate the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth.

On this site you can watch the video of the Tree of Life animation, explore the interactive version and sign up to receive updates on additional content.
Go there. Watch the fantastic introduction video on evolution and the tree of life as presented by Sir David Attenborough. Click on to the interactive Tree of Life and play with it. Check out the downloadable 3D images of the tree and the animals on it, or simply find an animal you’re interested in and read about it.

You will love the Interactive Tree of Life. This one rates as one of my favorite picks ever…

Skepticism is more clearly understood by asking “What do I know?”
— Michel Montaigne

Chat Highlights:
Wednesday: Skepticality folks were entirely absent from this week’s chat, but we had a good time nonetheless. Almost the entire night was spent discussing politics in one form or another. There was Shermer and the Libertarians, Orly Taitz and the birthers, and a rather new (at least to those in chat) site, The Law That Never Was. This site contends that the 16th Amendment, which grants Congress power to levy an income tax, was never actually ratified by the required number of states. Much of chat was spent picking this site apart and attempting to verify or debunk its claims. The night came to a close with a brief discussion of Unscientific America and the surrounding controversies.

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
The 116th Meeting of the Skeptics’ Circle: The Wooful ER

Argument is about capitalism, not food

Kabbalist Blesses Jones: Now´s the Time to Find Holy Lost Ark


What’s New by Bob Park

Where Is My Japanese Toilet?

Got some skeptic news items? Send them to us, and we’ll think about adding them.

Book of the Week:
Mark Twain: A Life, by Ron Powers.

“Mark Twain grew up with America. Born in 1835, he reached adulthood as the country was expanding and threatening to splinter all at once. Along with his towering talent and personality, his timing and instinct for finding the action allowed him to play a major role in pushing the boundaries of American culture and mythology by creating a new approach to literature. ‘Breaching the ranks of New England literary culture was Clemens’s most important achievement (short of his actual works), and a signal liberating event in the country’s imaginative history,’ writes Ron Powers in this dazzling biography. Not only did he observe and chronicle this cultural shift, he participated in it, allowing him to report ‘from the yeasty perspective of the common man.’ While still Sam Clemens, he worked as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River and experienced the Wild West of the Nevada Territory as a miner, land prospector, and newspaperman. Later, while still the people’s champion, he married into wealth and ran with the moneyed class of the Gilded Age — until his money ran out — and toured the world meeting with the famous and powerful at every stop. He was, as Powers puts it, ‘the nation’s first rock star.’ But Twain was more than just a writer and Powers strives to cover all sides of this complex man. Employing an approach he calls ‘interpretive portraiture,’ he explores Twain’s personal relations, temperament, religious skepticism, and psychology as closely as his written work. He discusses Twain’s zeal for life along with his ‘chronic insecurity,’ and describes how this eternally optimistic and forward-looking man was prone to spells of nihilism and despair. Powers is a talented and lively writer clearly up to the task of covering this American legend, and his book vividly and thoroughly explains why Twain was ‘the representative figure of his nation and his century.’”

— Shawn Carkonen

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. The Supper
  2. Stop laughing, dammit! This is serious shit!
  3. PZ expelled from Expelled — Dawkins slips in!
  4. Possum on the half shell
  5. The shallow end of the gene pool…
  6. Documentary: 1983 "Moonwalk" was staged
  7. Beelzebufo ampinga
  8. Moon-walker claims alien contact cover-up
  9. Good introduction to skepticism?
  10. The ‘quote’ thread
  1. Evolving a Venom or Two
  2. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  3. Skeptic Summary #152
  4. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  5. Mesmer, Casino Monkey, and Video Sex
  6. Miracle Thaw Tray
  7. Scientific Truth
  8. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  9. TAM5
  10. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony!
There were 13,772 daily visitors this week.
Last Month’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. The Supper
  2. Stop laughing, dammit! This is serious shit!
  3. PZ expelled from Expelled — Dawkins slips in!
  4. The shallow end of the gene pool…
  5. Possum on the half shell
  6. Crabby Catholic curses, well, everything in sight
  7. Beelzebufo ampinga
  8. Moon-walker claims alien contact cover-up
  9. New World Order happening right now!
  10. A half of a wing & a piece of a prayer
  11. Funny FAILS
  12. Dracorex hogwartsia
  13. I don’t think I can make it to this…
  14. The water cooler, part 3
  15. Fence-Sitting is not all bad
  16. The Battle of Tehran
  17. ‘Big Farmer’ condemned for disease, suffering
  18. Art or oxygen theft?
  19. Moral absolutes?
  20. The ‘quote’ thread
  1. Evolving a Venom or Two
  2. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  3. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  4. Skeptic Summary #152
  5. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  6. Miracle Thaw Tray
  7. Mesmer, Casino Monkey, and Video Sex
  8. TAM5
  9. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony!
  10. Cold Reading
  11. Scientific Truth
  12. Evolution is a Lie
  13. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  14. N. 6, January 2001: Split brains, paradigm shifts, and why it is so difficult to be a skeptic
  15. Come & Receive your Miracle: A Sunday Afternoon at a Robert Tilton Crusade
  16. Quantum Age Water
  17. SkeptiCamp Atlanta: A Personal Overview
  18. Calorad
  19. More on the Polonium 218 Controversy
  20. Evidence Cited as Hard Proof of the Existence of Satanic Cults
There were 54,227 daily visitors in July, 2009.

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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