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Skeptic Summary #254

By The Staff
Posted on: 9/26/2009

A retreat, a mangy wolf, a bad book, a snake with a leg, a question of governance, a chasm to bridge and more!

Week ending September 26, 2009 (Vol 6, #36)

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:
Americans retreat from formal religion! - Of course, they have us surrounded!

Chupacabra sold to creationist museum - Bibleland challenges us to ridicule him, again.

Kirk Cameron’s Origin Of Species - A half-baked mockery.

Editor’s Choice: A snake matter for Filthy - Or, instead, a personal matter for Bill.

From the Archives: Should we have government? - Anarchy in the USA!

Kil’s Evil Pick:
Bridging the Chasm between Two Cultures,” by Karla McLaren. Here is the CSI introduction to this 2004 article from Skeptical Inquirer:
A former leader in the New Age culture — author of nine titles on auras, chakras, “energy,” and so on — chronicles her difficult and painful transition to skepticism. She thanks the skeptical community and agonizes over how the messages of scientific and critical thinking could be made more effective in communicating with her former New Age colleagues.
And McLaren opens her essay with this:
I’ve been studying the conflict between the skeptical community and the metaphysical/new age community for a few decades now, and I think I’ve finally discovered the central issue that makes communication so difficult. It is not merely, as many surmise, a conflict between fact-based viewpoints and faith-based viewpoints. Nor is it simply a conflict between rationality and credulity. No, it’s a full-on clash of cultures that makes real communication improbable at best.

I know this firsthand, because as a former member of the New Age culture, I struggled for years to decipher the language, the rules, the attitudes, and the expectations of the skeptical culture. Yet for a great while, all I could hear from the skeptical culture was noise — and confusing noise at that…
Somehow this got by me. With a hat tip to Daniel Loxton, I have now read what I consider a very important essay for both the skeptic, and those who think of themselves as coming from the “new age.” You know, those “deluded fools” that we are trying to set straight. Are we doomed to talking past each other, no matter what our position is? I’m hoping that this pick will spark a conversation on the forum…

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.

Chat Highlights:
Wednesday: Chat started with various stories of past injuries, odd how most were self-inflicted. Then Kil entered with news that he has quit smoking. Being inspired by such an act, Dave also quit, for the next half hour or so. dglas informed us of a debaptism taking place at the end of the month. All you really need to know is that it involves a blow dryer. An innocuous work story brought on a few hilarious videos, but then everything quickly went to hell. What started was a YouTube war, where chatters were linking to the worst videos they could find. Of course I will do you the favor of not sharing any of these here… except one. Kil swore up and down that this video was funny, but I think he was just trying to get us to watch it. It was getting late, and as you might have imagined, this ended chat for the night.

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
The 120th Skeptics’ Circle

Carl Sagan — ‘A Glorious Dawn’ ft Stephen Hawking (Cosmos Remixed)

A new low at HuffPo

No More Miss Cleo For You

Pernicious film of Aids denialist propaganda

Skepticality #109 — Columbine, True Horror and American Myth

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:
How We Decide, by Jonah Lehrer.

“Lehrer describes in fluid prose, the brain’s reasoning centers are easily fooled, often making judgments based on nonrational factors like presentation (a sales pitch or packaging)… Lehrer is a delight to read, and this is a fascinating book (some of which appeared recently, in a slightly different form, in the New Yorker) that will help everyone better understand themselves and their decision making.”

— Publishers Weekly

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. New World Order happening right now!
  5. The shallow end of the gene pool…
  6. A snake matter for Filthy
  7. Possum on the half shell
  8. A half of a wing & a piece of a prayer
  9. ACORN busted hard
  10. Funny FAILS
  1. Evolving a Venom or Two
  2. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  3. Laetrile
  4. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  5. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  6. Scientific Truth
  7. Astrology
  8. Skeptic Summary #152
  9. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  10. TAM5
There were 17,195 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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