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Skeptic Summary #264

By The Staff
Posted on: 12/19/2009

Religion, the Senate, an Amazing opinion, spiraling, skeptic strategy, the worst dissertation, humbug, climate answers and more!

Week ending December 19, 2009 (Vol 6, #46)

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:
Are we better off without religion? - Is this a yes/no or an essay question?

I hate Joe Lieberman. I mean, I really hate him. - Really, I do.

James Randi’s current take on Global Warming - The Amazing One gets this one wrong. Twice.

Spiral UFO - Activate thrusters and enjoy the ride…

Strategy Ideas for Skeptics - Do we have one? Shouldn’t we?

Editor’s Choice: Hovind’s dissertation for download - If you’re a masochist, that is.

From the Archives: The myth of the secularist humbug - Even in Britain, the “War on Christmas” was (and is) just a boogieman. Also: don’t piss on Raphael.

Kil’s Evil Pick:
Seven Answers to Climate Contrarian Nonsense,” by John Rennie — Writing at, Rennie’s article opens:
On November 18, with the United Nations Global Warming Conference in Copenhagen fast approaching, U.S. Sen. James R. Inhofe (R–Okla.) took the floor of the Senate and proclaimed 2009 to be “The Year of the Skeptic.” Had the senator’s speech marked a new commitment to dispassionate, rational inquiry, a respect for scientific thought and a well-grounded doubt in ghosts, astrology, creationism and homeopathy, it might have been cause for cheer. But Inhofe had a more narrow definition of skeptic in mind: he meant “standing up and exposing the science, the costs and the hysteria behind global warming alarmism.”

Within the community of scientists and others concerned about anthropogenic climate change, those whom Inhofe calls skeptics are more commonly termed contrarians, naysayers and denialists. Not everyone who questions climate change science fits that description, of course — some people are genuinely unaware of the facts or honestly disagree about their interpretation. What distinguishes the true naysayers is an unwavering dedication to denying the need for action on the problem, often with weak and long-disproved arguments about supposed weaknesses in the science behind global warming.

What follows is only a partial list of the contrarians’ bad arguments and some brief rebuttals of them.
There’s not much more I can add in the way of comment to this pick other than it’s timely, given recent and current events with regard to the science of climate change. Given my respect for John Rennie, I offer this pick as a resource and a very good read.

I was dead for millions of years before I was born and it never inconvenienced me a bit.
— Mark Twain

Chat Highlights:
Wednesday, December 9th: I (Kil) opened chat to find Terry already there. After some small talk we figured out that we knew each other from way back when, on the AOL boards, and specifically the Free speech Zone, which was run by the ACLU. AOL had a hands-off deal the ACLU which made the FSZ a perfect meeting place for freethinkers. Eventually, AOL punted the zone. That was more than ten years ago. Ricky dropped in for a grammar lesson and Dave immediately demonstrated his ability to use Google to find stuff out. Who’d a thunk it? Anyhow, some of the regulars showed up and then got busy doing other things. But I assure you; our lives were enriched by our chat encounter, and I’m sure none of us would have traded that couple of hours for anything in the world…

Wednesday, December 16th: O’Reily started off chat with his as-usual war on Christmas, and also his recent mention on SVU. Then an argument on whether Christmas is a religious holiday or not. The only argument for the pro-religious side was “the dictionary says so,” and thus the argument ended rather quickly. Dave told an online-shopping horror story, and then talk moved on to shopping for nonreligious holiday cards. Getting back to politics we wandered into the health care crisis with Lieberman and then climate “skeptics.” After trying to come up with a better name for people who think global warming isn’t happening (or isn’t man made), and discussing where exactly Randi’s view lies, chat moved on to Law and Order and possible legal loopholes. Chat ended with this rather hilarious site.

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
The Best Speech Nixon Never Gave

Climate change? Well, we’ll be dead by then

Don’t Worry (Playing For Change / Song Around the World)

Encounters with gigantic orangutans

The Hairy Museum of Natural History

Jack Bauer interrogates Santa

‘Killer Petunias’ Should Join the Ranks of Carnivorous Plants, Scientists Propose

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Zombies

Mute Monks Sing The Hallelujah Chorus

My considered opinion on Robert Wright’s new article in Foreign Policy

Naked Mole Rats In The News

The Paradoxical Future of Skepticism

‘Simple’ bacterium shows surprising complexity

Skepticality #116 — Evolution Rx

Tim Minchin: Storm

A vintage year. Expect more in 2010

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:
The Magic World of the Amazing Randi, by James Randi.

“This book deserves a place alongside the many wonderful tricks that James Randi has pulled off in his amazing career. He’s gotten 24 of the finest magicians in the world to contribute favorite tricks to this collection. Some can be done with little or no practice, others will take some rehearsal. All are fiendishly clever and many are very funny besides. Contributors range from David Copperfield to Penn & Teller. Plus, of course, the Amazing Randi himself. Randi also treats readers to profiles on the contributing prestidigitators. Grab this book and prepare to bedazzle and deceive.”


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. Funny FAILS
  5. James Randi’s current take on Global Warming
  6. Quote Mine warning propaganda poster
  7. The shallow end of the gene pool…
  8. Nazi Christmas
  9. Evolution vs. ID: 6 Bones of Contention
  10. Home boy makes good!
  1. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  2. Evolving a Venom or Two
  3. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  4. Scientific Truth
  5. Miracle Thaw Tray
  6. TAM5
  7. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  8. SkeptiCamp Atlanta: A Personal Overview
  9. Cold Reading
  10. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
There were 23,411 daily visitors this week.
Last Month’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. Funny FAILS
  6. Quote Mine warning propaganda poster
  7. Scattershots: gargoyles & grotesques
  8. Documentary: 1983 ‘Moonwalk’ was staged
  9. Beelzebufo ampinga
  10. Dracorex hogwartsia
  11. Reality
  12. Federal Reserve Act of 1913
  13. Wrong images of Saturn
  14. Evolution vs. ID: 6 Bones of Contention
  15. Moon-walker claims alien contact cover-up
  16. We’d invite Hitler to speak, says Columbia dean
  17. Sarah Palin naked again!
  18. Jesus tempts Satan
  19. What is photorealism?
  20. Obama’s speech to schoolchildren
  1. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  2. Evolving a Venom or Two
  3. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  4. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  5. More on the Polonium 218 Controversy
  6. TAM5
  7. Miracle Thaw Tray
  8. The PQ Test
  9. Scientific Truth
  10. Cold Reading
  11. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  12. Come & Receive your Miracle: A Sunday Afternoon at a Robert Tilton Crusade
  13. Kent Hovind is a Kwazy Kweationist
  14. Mesmer, Casino Monkey, and Video Sex
  15. Evolution is a Lie
  16. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony!
  17. Quantum Age Water
  18. Preaching that Anti-Evolution Propaganda
  19. The Biblical support for a Flat Earth and Geocentricism
  20. SkeptiCamp Atlanta: A Personal Overview
There were 90,685 daily visitors in November, 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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