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Skeptic Summary

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Skeptic Summary #273

By The Staff
Posted on: 2/22/2010

Climate, ignorant law, teabaggers, Trudeau, embarrassment, ancient geometry, Debunkatron and more!


Week ending February 20, 2010 (Vol 7, #8)

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:
David Brin on Climate Change ‘Deniers & Skeptics’ - Suddenly the word “unpatriotic” becomes meaningful.

Legislating ignorance in Utah - The opposite of No Child Left Behind.

Teabaggers owned by the GOP… - Advice from our own herpetologist.

Uh oh. Kevin Trudeau’s in trouble… - In jail for contempt of court.

Editor’s Choice: Climate change denialist embarrassment - But they keep on going, anyway.

From the Archives: Unknown ancient geometry - Ancient Flower of Life. ’Nuff said.



Kil’s Evil Pick:
Debunkatron
For the fun of debunking,
duty of skepticism,
and the love of science.
This is a very useful collection of links to resources that take on many of the claims made by those who have chosen to sidestep science, or disregard the evidence that points to their claims being baloney, in favor of what the believers believe on many different subjects of concern to skeptics. There are often multiple links to resources that cover single subjects. The site also includes brief comments from the sites author, Torsten Pihl aka ThorGoLucky, who just happens to be a Skeptic Friends Network member. There are also a series of links to sites that explain skepticism, critical thinking and some common fallacies used by the purveyors of nonsense, as well as links to skeptic sites and still other resources. Thorsten explains:
When you read or overhear nonsense or the besmirching of science, do you have an urge to respond and set things straight? Are you seeking knowledge and tools to help refute such foolishness? Would you like to be the bane of forums with topics about pseudoscience, bizarre conspiracies, quack remedies or the paranormal? If yes to any of the above, then you have come to the right place. Welcome!

Debunking can be an easy sport, and it can require tedious research to learn a subject and get your facts straight. Although ideologues and true believers cannot be swayed by logical arguments and evidence, there might be others on the sidelines who can be influenced.

True believers can be quite deluded. You say one thing and they will hear another (see Illusion of Superiority for an explanation). And in the case of bizarre conspiracy believers, any argument against the conspiracy becomes an argument for the conspiracy. But you might be able to plant a seed of reality that could rear its beautiful sprout years later.

Debunking isn’t about being contrary (no it isn’t! yes it is!); it’s about exposing shams and falseness, and it can be good debate practice or just plain fun. Apart from having fun, I think the primary goal should be the defense of quality science because it’s such an amazingly useful tool for discovery and progress.

Also, imagination and fiction can be useful, inspiring and make you feel good. But when fiction is presented as fact, it is bunk and open to criticism, and your health or wealth can be in jeopardy from bunk.
The site is well laid-out and the links are terrific. I suggest that you bookmark the Debunkatron if you want to know where to get the lowdown on many of the claims that we regularly encounter as skeptics.

SkeptiQuote:
Shall I refuse my dinner because I do not fully understand the process of digestion?
— Oliver Heaviside


Chat Highlights:
Wednesday: I was charged by a higher up with the task to include every link that occurred during chat in the summary, so here goes nothing. Dave started out with some oldie music, The Dead Kennedys. That got the ball rolling and for much of the night we stayed on the subject of music (or not-really-music). We started with some classics but then took a turn to various and vulgar (live version) country songs. Just when I thought we had gotten out of country music and into something better, we took a U-turn back into disco. And not just disco, but bad disco (where bad is used as a relative modifier) and just plain weird disco. This all lead to a discussion of when disco actually died, to which the answer is July 12th, 1979. Getting into more classic rock we have Clapton, Alan Parsons Project, and Meat Loaf. Dave was entertained by the remake bands The Dickies, Hayseed Dixie, and The Bobs (if you can make it through the last one, you are a stronger person than I). The Dickies singing Nights in White Satin led Kil on a rant on how the Moody Blues went down the drain as soon as they became more serious and started thinking of themselves as poets. Speaking of which, check out this awesome song and all its wonderful poetry. Alright time to wrap this up: riffs, not-work-safe comedy, rant, British rip off, white trash, (c)rap, and I honestly have no idea. Oh, and at one point we talked about writing a console for web pages. podcat suggested this for those who want to learn to appreciate music.

Come chat with us.


New Members This Week:
Major Faversham
Zehbr
bertatberts
izthisunok

(Not a member? Become one today!)




Elsewhere in the World:
“Belgium Doesn’t Exist!” or “Land of Sprouts and Chocolate, I Think Not.”

Crickets Warn Young Before Birth of Dangers of Wolf Spiders

Detailed footage of the Oregon Sasquatch!

Global warming deniers want South Dakota’s teachers to deceive children

Growthgate

Levee Expert Let Go By LSU

Origin of the specious

Philosopher Left to Muse on Ridicule Over a Hoax

Rotting the tree of life

Skepticality #120 — Evolution of Jr. Skeptic

Study: Young Americans less religious than their parents

The Templeton Foundation plays some more games

The Vacuity of Intelligent Design

Video Variant on ‘Dogs Playing Cards’

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:
Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science, by Martin Gardner.



“Fair, witty appraisal of cranks, quacks, and quackeries of science and pseudoscience: hollow earth, Velikovsky, orgone energy, Dianetics, flying saucers, Bridey Murphy, food and medical fads, more.”

— Book Description




This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. The Supper
  2. PZ expelled from Expelled — Dawkins slips in!
  3. Funny FAILS
  4. Beelzebufo ampinga
  5. New World Order happening right now!
  6. Scattershots: gargoyles & grotesques
  7. The shallow end of the gene pool…
  8. Jesus tempts Satan
  9. Quote Mine warning propaganda poster
  10. David Brin on Climate Change ‘Deniers & Skeptics’
Articles:
  1. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  2. Evolving a Venom or Two
  3. Astrology
  4. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  5. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  6. Miracle Thaw Tray
  7. TAM5
  8. Cold Reading
  9. Skeptic Summary #272
  10. Scientific Truth
There were 19,824 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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The mission of the Skeptic Friends Network is to promote skepticism, critical thinking, science and logic as the best methods for evaluating all claims of fact, and we invite active participation by our members to create a skeptical community with a wide variety of viewpoints and expertise.


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