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Skeptic Summary #259

By The Staff
Posted on: 11/8/2009

Biology, politics, magic, lying, fish, yes men and more!

Week ending November 07, 2009 (Vol 6, #41)

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:
Controversial topics in biology - Who will in in a fight? T4 bacteriophage or an envelope virus?

Results from NY 23 district - Repubs scramble to regroup.

The stealth creationist… - Creationists continue to try to mask their magic as science.

Editor’s Choice: Ray Comfort plagiarized ‘Origin’ introduction - The lying liar lies again.

From the Archives: Fish fin gene gave us the finger - Lessons in biology. Again.

Kil’s Evil Pick:
The Yes Men Fix the World — Welp, I’m picking a movie this time. Another first. Look over the above site, click on to everything and find a theater near you that is showing this movie. But first, who are The Yes Men?
The Yes Men is a group of culture jamming activists who practice what they call “identity correction” by pretending to be powerful people and spokespersons for prominent organizations. From their offices in Milwaukee, they create and maintain fake websites similar to ones they want to spoof, and then they accept invitations received on their websites to appear at conferences, symposia, and TV shows. Their newfound, self-proclaimed authority to express the idea that corporations and governmental organizations often act in dehumanizing ways toward the public has met both positively and negatively with political overtones. Elaborate props are sometimes part of the ruse, as shown in their 2003 DVD release The Yes Men.

Their method is often satire: posing as corporate or government spokespeople, they often make shocking comments which they believe to be the real meaning of the organisation’s ideology being hidden by spin, or extrapolate what they feel is the organisation’s ideology in a ‘reductio ad absurdum’ to come out with outrageous conclusions, such as that it should be possible to sell your vote or that the poor should eat recycled human waste. On most occasions no shock or anger has been registered in the response to their prank, with no one realizing they were imposters. Sometimes, the Yes Men’s phony spokesperson makes announcements that represent dream scenarios for the anti-globalization movement or opponents of corporate crime. The result is false news reports of the demise of the WTO, or Dow paying for a Union Carbide cleanup, which the Yes Men intend to provide publicity for what they see as problems in the current situation…
As you can see by their video, Bhopal Disaster — BBC — The Yes Men, they have been at it for a while now. Gotta love these guys.

[R]eality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.
— Richard Feynman

Chat Highlights:
Wednesday: First up during chat was bad jokes and wordplay. And when I say “bad,” I’m using each of its various meanings. Of course if you’re like me and you enjoy bad jokes, then it was a pretty good start for chat. Then the finer points of fine stringed instruments, the acting career of Roddy Piper, and bad fight scenes in films. As the last game of the world series went into its final inning, Cune became an announcer for those not watching. More like a score board, actually. After the game, chatters criticized sport reporters for asking stupid questions, like “Does it feel good to win?” Death Letter changed the topic over to music with various White Stripes videos and Adrian Belew. Guitar talk lead to the Crossroads guitar duel. Of course Ricky had never seen it, so it went on his now mile-long movie list. By this time it was well passed 1 AM and most people either passed out or logged out.

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:
Sally Luxmoore

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
The 123rd Congregation of the Skeptics’ Circle

Are your drugs laws working? Ask a scientist

The new crybaby theists

The Skeptic’s Dictionary Newsletter #109

Skepticality #113 — Don’t Be Such A Scientist!

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:
Smallpox — the Death of a Disease: The Inside Story of Eradicating a Worldwide Killer, by D. A. Henderson.

“For more than 3000 years, hundreds of millions of people have died or been left permanently scarred or blind by the relentless, incurable disease called smallpox. In 1967, Dr. D.A. Henderson became director of a worldwide campaign to eliminate this disease from the face of the earth.

This spellbinding book is Dr. Henderson’s personal story of how he led the World Health Organization’s campaign to eradicate smallpox, the only disease in history to have been deliberately eliminated. Some have called this feat the greatest scientific and humanitarian achievement of the past century.

In a lively, engrossing narrative, Dr. Henderson makes it clear that the gargantuan international effort involved more than straightforward mass vaccination. He and his staff had to cope with civil wars, floods, impassable roads, and refugees as well as formidable bureaucratic and cultural obstacles, shortages of local health personnel and meager budgets. Countries across the world joined in the effort; the United States and the Soviet Union worked together through the darkest cold war days; and professionals from more than 70 nations served as WHO field staff. On October 26, 1976, the last case of smallpox occurred. The disease that annually had killed two million people or more had been vanquished and in just over ten years.

The story did not end there. Dr. Henderson recounts in vivid detail the continuing struggle over whether to destroy the remaining virus in the two laboratories still that held it. Then came the startling discovery that the Soviet Union had been experimenting with smallpox virus as a biological weapon and producing it in large quantities. The threat of its possible use by a rogue nation or a terrorist has had to be taken seriously and Dr. Henderson has been a central figure in plans for coping with it.

New methods for mass smallpox vaccination were so successful that he sought to expand the program of smallpox immunization to include polio, measles, whooping cough, diphtheria, and tetanus vaccines. That program now reaches more than four out of five children in the world and is eradicating poliomyelitis.

This unique book is to be treasured a personal and true story that proves that through cooperation and perseverance the most daunting of obstacles can be overcome.”

— Product Description

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. The Supper
  2. PZ expelled from Expelled — Dawkins slips in!
  3. New World Order happening right now!
  4. The shallow end of the gene pool…
  5. Quote Mine warning propaganda poster
  6. Scattershots: gargoyles & grotesques
  7. Funny FAILS
  8. Documentary: 1983 ‘Moonwalk’ was staged
  9. Dracorex hogwartsia
  10. Science / Religion Flow Chart
  1. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  2. Evolving a Venom or Two
  3. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  4. Miracle Thaw Tray
  5. Flat Earth, Private Property, Sweden
  6. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  7. Come & Receive your Miracle: A Sunday Afternoon at a Robert Tilton Crusade
  8. TAM5
  9. Scientific Truth
  10. Evolution is a Lie
There were 19,887 daily visitors this week.
Last Month’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. The Supper
  2. New World Order happening right now!
  3. PZ expelled from Expelled — Dawkins slips in!
  4. The shallow end of the gene pool…
  5. Funny FAILS
  6. Stop laughing, dammit! This is serious shit!
  7. Documentary: 1983 ‘Moonwalk’ was staged
  8. Scattershots: gargoyles & grotesques
  9. Nobel Prize and Obama
  10. Dracorex hogwartsia
  11. Kurtz ousted from CFI
  12. Phoenix Lights flare debris
  13. Quote Mine warning propaganda poster
  14. Science / Religion Flow Chart
  15. Beelzebufo ampinga
  16. Jesus tempts Satan
  17. Moon-walker claims alien contact cover-up
  18. What is photorealism?
  19. Wrong images of Saturn
  20. Scattershots: the stone art of Mesoamerica
  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. TAM5
  7. Evolution is a Lie
  8. Miracle Thaw Tray
  9. Cold Reading
  10. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  11. Evolution, Scientology Style
  12. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony!
  13. Scientific Truth
  14. Come & Receive your Miracle: A Sunday Afternoon at a Robert Tilton Crusade
  15. Mesmer, Casino Monkey, and Video Sex
  16. The Laundry Solution
  17. Calorad
  18. Quantum Age Water
  19. Kent Hovind is a Kwazy Kweationist
  20. More on the Polonium 218 Controversy
There were 76,069 daily visitors in October, 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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