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Skeptic Summary #270

By The Staff
Posted on: 1/31/2010

Missing something, winning the race, a spectacular shaming, distributing justice, laughing at woo-meisters, escaping Scientology and more!

Week ending January 30, 2010 (Vol 7, #5)

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:
Did I miss something about climate change? - Just something really funny.

Let’s win evolution please - We are, in a way.

Olbermann shamed by Stewart - When one goes overboard, the other reels him in.

TANFJ! - Oh, yes there is.

Editor’s Choice: A funny thing in the land of woo - Too much! Can’t breathe! Laughing!

Kil’s Evil Pick:
Larry Anderson, star of Scientology’s ‘Orientation’ film, wants his money back,” by Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin for the St. Petersburg Times — Let’s say you are a celebrity spokesman for The Church of Scientology and after 33 years of membership in the church, you want to leave, and you want the money you paid the church for services not rendered. Here is the story of Larry Anderson and his attempt to leave the church and get his money back, supposedly held in account, but not actually used. The church does have a written policy for returning money under those conditions, but will they actually honor it? Excerpt from the article:
…Eleven months ago, Anderson met with Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis to discuss his request for repayment. Anderson, 58, put a tape recorder on the table between them.

The 90-minute tape affords a rare look at how the church dealt with a high-profile defector and his demand for his money.

Davis pressed Anderson for assurance he would not broadcast his decision to leave Scientology or join the ranks of its critics. Anderson refused, saying he was entitled to his money without conditions.

Anderson said the church was just holding it on account. “I want that money back.”

In a written response to the St. Petersburg Times, Davis repeated what he told Anderson: The payments were charitable donations…
Along with many interesting links is this actual recording of Larry Anderson’s meeting with Tommy Davis, a spokesman for the Church, who many of us have come to recognize as their main talking head in defense of church practices. Other links include Larry Anderson’s orientation videos that he did for the church.

Fun stuff, if you can keep your blood from boiling…

As I understand it, the claim is that the less you use Homeopathy, the better it works. Sounds plausible to me.
— David Deutsch

Chat Highlights:
Wednesday: Chat happened to fall on Obama’s first State of the Union address, so you can guess what chat was mostly about. General consensus seemed to be that Obama was doing OK for a president in such a bad position (i.e. post-Bush) and the speech was rather good but still just a speech. As far as non-political talk went, there was the iPad (not work safe), China is up in arms and how the universe will end (spoiler alert!). We spent quite a while detailing Hubble’s Phenomena, how we know it is occurring and what the end result will be. Also mentioned was the wonderful lecture by Lawrence Krauss, A Universe From Nothing. By the time everyone came to an understanding, it was already relatively late, so we gravitated to our beds.

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
129th Skeptics’ Circle!

Another Crazy Conspiracy Theory

CIA Man Retracts Claim on Waterboarding

Creation vs. Expelled

Fear and Loathing in LEGO Vegas

Haiti: 360°

If a Building Could Dream: 3D Projection

Is Google making us less rational?

Peer reviewed impacts of global warming

Protect the Children (and mean it)

Q: Would it be possible to kill ALL of Earth’s life with nuclear bombs?

The rise of the irreligious Left

Skepticality #119 — Worlds of Their Own

Straightening out the kinks

Terrifying consequences of a lapse in critical thinking

This is the title of a typical incendiary blog post

What colours were dinosaur feathers?

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

Book of the Week:
The Leakeys: A Biography, by Mary Bowman-Kruhm.

“It is hard to imagine the study of human origins without the Leakey family. Three generations of Leakeys have scratched in the baked, unfriendly soil of East Africa to unearth fossil evidence of the earliest humans and their ancient ancestors. In the process they have practically defined the field of paleoanthropology, while eliciting admiration as well as controversies and criticism. In this engrossing biography, prolific writer and educator Mary Bowman-Kruhm tells the story of three generations of Leakeys. Beginning with patriarch Louis Leakey, a native of Kenya, she describes how he turned his boyhood love of exploring the Kenyan countryside into a scientific profession that eventually garnered international recognition. As the author shows, Leakey struggled in the early years, often barely able to make a living. The end of World War II, a trip to Rusinga Island in Lake Victoria, and an injection of money from a benefactor led to the discovery of Proconsul africanus, an 18-million-year-old skull that was a precursor to both later evolving apes and humans. Then Leakey and his wife, Mary, discovered fragments of what came to be known as Parantbropus boisei, which lived about 1.75 million years ago. These findings brought the Leakeys great attention and important funding from the National Geographic Society. Bowman-Kruhm intersperses her discussion of the Leakeys’ important scientific contributions with interesting asides about their personal life: from the trying 1950s when the Mau Mau revolt in Kenya threatened all of their lives; through Louis’ interest in young proteges, including Jane Goodall and Diane Fossey; to the rocky relationship between the Leakeys and Donald Johanson, the discoverer of ‘Lucy’. By the time of Louis’s death in 1972, Mary and their son Richard were making dramatic finds on their own. When Richard discovered a rich cache of fossils in northern Kenya, he soon attained a level of acclaim to rival his father and mother’s. Eventually, he turned his attention to fighting for the cause of wildlife conservation, a passion that he continues to the present. Today, the paleontology work of the Leakey family continues, carried on mainly by Meave, Richard’s wife, and their daughter, Louise, at Koobi Fora in northern Kenya.”

— Product Description

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. The Supper
  2. Scattershots: gargoyles & grotesques
  3. Funny FAILS
  4. Earthquake causes?
  5. Blind faith in drugs
  6. New World Order happening right now!
  7. Quote Mine warning propaganda poster
  8. Scientists’ questionable truths
  9. The birth of our moon?
  10. The shallow end of the gene pool…
  1. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  2. Evolving a Venom or Two
  3. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  4. Mesmer, Casino Monkey, and Video Sex
  5. TAM5
  6. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  7. Scientific Truth
  8. Questioning the Validity of False Memory Syndrome
  9. Miracle Thaw Tray
  10. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
There were 23,199 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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