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Skeptic Summary

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Skeptic Summary #310

By The Staff
Posted on: 12/12/2010

Antivax ads, real skeptics, Arsenic, agnostic dad, precog, Wikileaks, Godzilla and more!

Week ending December 11, 2010 (Vol 7, #45)

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:
Anti Vaccine Propaganda at your local theater? - Commercial got cancelled.

Are you a real skeptic or just faithing it? - I believe I’m a real skeptic.

Newly Found Arsenic-Based Life Form - But flaws found in NASA study. Still interesting though.

Parent denied custody - Because he is agnostic?!

Study suggests precognition… - Replications of the study suggests: Not.

Wikileaks. Good thing or bad thing? - A bit of both, probably.

Kil’s Evil Pick:
The science of Godzilla, 2010 — This pick was inspired by last night’s Speaking Up portion of the Skeptically Speaking #88 radio show and podcast. (That’s the pre-recorded part of the show.) Host, Desiree Schell had Palaeozoologist, Darren Naish on to discuss… Well… The science of Godzilla. Darren Naish has a site called Tetrapod Zoology which is well worth exploring, but today we are focusing on his The science of Godzilla, 2010 page because, you know, it’s my pick. From the opening:
…To begin with, let’s get things straight and admit up front that Godzilla is not a real animal, nor was it ever. It’s an unfeasibly big late-surviving dinosaur (belonging to the hypothetical taxon Godzillasaurus, according to some), mutated by radiation, with a radioactive heart. Godzilla is virtually impervious to other gigantic monsters, and also to robots, artillery, laser blasts, lava and fire. Not real. Sorry about that. But by posing questions about fictional entities we can still learn stuff, and you may be surprised to learn that Godzilla has, on occasion, been discussed semi-seriously by various biologists and palaeontologists. Ok, that won’t surprise you if you already know anything about Godzilla, but what the hey.

A little bit of introduction to Godzilla first. To date, Godzilla — and here I mean the real Godzilla, and not the thing that appeared in the 1998 TriStar movie (known variously among Godzilla fans as Fraudzilla, Deanzilla [after writer/producer Dean Devlin], GINO* or Zilla) — has appeared in over 20 movies, dating from 1954 to the present. If you’ve seen any of the new films, you’ll know that they don’t follow on chronologically from their predecessors. The films are still being made, with the latest being Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)…
Naish goes on to explain the biology, anatomy and physics of my favorite atomically mutated really really big rubber suited fire breathing reptilian monster. With lots of photos, including anatomical drawings of Godzilla and lots of links to other important things to know, including more anatomical drawings and more on the biology of the big fellow.


(This photo was uploaded by me and is not on the linked site.)

But wait! There’s more!

The anatomy of Zilla, the TriStar ‘Godzilla’:
I recently posted an updated version of the ‘Science of Godzilla’ article, and what a great success it was. But I’m kicking myself, because I totally forgot something else I should have mentioned: Tracy L. Ford recently had cause to produce a number of anatomical drawings of Zilla (aka GINO*/Deanzilla/Fraudzilla), the monster bipedal reptile that invades New York in the 1998 TriStar movie Godzilla. Like all Godzilla fans, I don’t regard Zilla as a ‘Godzilla’ at all; rather, it’s a charlatan, an imposter. And the movie itself is awful…

…Anyway, Tracy has been kind enough to let me use his drawings here. Here they are, with a bit of commentary.

We begin with a full skeletal reconstruction (and anatomical life drawing) of the creature. In the skeleton, note that Tracy has provided Zilla with a pelvis where both the pubis and ischium are relatively short: indeed, Zilla’s body and pelvic region is not particularly deep, so it cannot have had long-shafted, rod-like pubes and ischia like those present in theropod dinosaurs. Tracy has also given Zilla a lizard-like, fenestrated scapulocoracoid. We don’t know whether Zilla has gastralia or not: if it is a mutated lizard (see below), the presence of inscriptional ribs incorporated into the abdominal musculature would be predicted…
Heh. This is science folks! And it goes on like this with more drawings and a scientific lowdown on the imposter Zilla’s anatomy. Godzilla fan or not, this is some cool stuff!

Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit.
— Elbert Hubbard

Chat Highlights:
Wednesday the 1st: Welp. There were mostly only three of us in chat this week. That’s not a good turnout even by SFN standards. And yet, we did have a good chat, largely because one of the chatters subsribes to the ancient astronauts hypothesis. That made for a lively bit of fun. I asked her to start thread on the SFN forum so we could explore the subject in more depth, and she said she would, but as of yet, no thread. Oh well. The chat was fun anyhow…

Wednesday the 8th: The chat started out with gay trees, and continued with improved fallacy identifying skills. Ad Homs and the Gish Gallop. Is copy-and-paste plagiarism? What ear protection to use as you try to sleep when the neighbours are power-drilling in concrete. Getting grey hair, what does that mean? Politics was also brought up with comparisons between Obama and Carter. War on Christmas warming up, how about war on Thanksgiving? The chat finished off discussing old music like John Denver, The Kinks, and BB King. — Dr. Mabuse

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
5 Ways Stores Use Science to Trick You Into Buying Crap

The Age of Autism counterattack against Skepchick Elyse begins

Atlantis — True Story or Cautionary Tale?

Can you find the hidden faces?

Christopher Hitchens: my hero of 2010

Death by “alternative” medicine: Who’s to blame? (Revisited)

Diminishing returns?: U.S. Science Productivity Continues to Drop

Harvard scientists reverse the ageing process in mice — now for humans

Harvard Scientists Reverse the Aging Process in Mice — Total Bullsh*t

It’s painfully easy to trick the mind into seeing things that aren't there

Japan team says stem cells made paralysed monkey jump again

Longevity Breakthrough: Scientists ‘Activate’ Life Extension in Worm, Discover Mitochondria’s Metabolic State Controls Life Span

NASA’s new organism, the meaning of life, and Darwin’s Second Theory

Neuroscientists reveal magicians’ secrets

One-way ticket to Mars?

Opening up climate science can cut off the skeptics

Science Fiction and Skepticism: Curiouser and Curiouser

The Scientific Guide to Global Warming Skepticism

Shocking: Agnostic Dad Loses Custody of Kids

Skepticality #144 — Inside Consumer Reports

Study reveals ‘secret ingredient’ in religion that makes people happier

Ten more science stunts for Christmas

“This Paper Should Not Have Been Published”

Universe Admits To Wronging Area Man His Entire Life

Video games are good for you, especially at work, study says

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:
Maybe Yes, Maybe No: A Guide for Young Skeptics, by Dan Barker.

“…This is definitely a kid’s only book, with annoying little characters drawn in ‘see it go, see it go up’ style, with a dog and a few other cuddly critters as well. But, it’s good stuff on how and why a skeptic thinks as he/she does that prods a kid to question in ways I never experienced growing up, at least not till I was, oh, maybe 32. (Of course I’m kidding.) Barker provides simple illustrations of what is proof, why it’s unwise to believe everything you hear, how to listen carefully, ask questions, seek clear answers, display curiousity andlook for better explanations — all illustrated in an unfolding story about kids looking for ghosts. The reasoning processes that apply in the search for ghosts also are shown to apply to a skeptic look at claims for UFOs, ESP, telepathy, telekinesis, prophesy, out of body experience, dowsing, levitation, astrology, horoscopes and faith healing. The refrain throughout to the young reader is, ‘What do you think?’”

— A customer review

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. The Secret KGB Abduction Files rant
  2. Moon-walker claims alien contact cover-up
  3. The Supper
  4. Funny FAILS
  5. Crabby Appleton
  6. The Battle of Tehran
  7. Yeah, but will it float?
  8. Fif50ty FreAkieSt AnIMaLS
  9. Scattershots: gargoyles & grotesques
  10. Nazi Christmas
  1. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  2. Evolving a Venom or Two
  3. Scientific Truth
  4. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  5. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  6. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  7. Spam Alert
  8. Cold Reading
  9. Miracle Thaw Tray
  10. Evil Skeptic and a Visit to Awareness 2000
There were 7,394 daily visitors this week.
Last Month’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Moon-walker claims alien contact cover-up
  2. Funny FAILS
  3. Dracorex hogwartsia
  4. The Supper
  5. The Battle of Tehran
  6. Too many atheists?
  7. Scattershots: gargoyles & grotesques
  8. Election day
  9. Fif50ty FreAkieSt AnIMaLS
  10. Climate change: science answers the deniers
  11. Am I being a dick?
  12. Beelzebufo ampinga
  13. Poll: Scott Brown to win Massachusetts
  14. Dembski/Hitchens debate
  15. The God-Science shouting match
  16. Jesus tempts Satan
  17. Combat Ki?
  18. Documentary: 1983 ‘Moonwalk’ was staged
  19. PZ expelled from Expelled — Dawkins slips in!
  20. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  1. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  2. Evolving a Venom or Two
  3. Scientific Truth
  4. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  5. Miracle Thaw Tray
  6. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  7. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  8. Evolution, Scientology Style
  9. N. 25, June 2002: Ecology vs. ecophily — being reasonable about saving the environment
  10. Spam Alert
  11. TAM5
  12. Cold Reading
  13. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony!
  14. More on the Polonium 218 Controversy
  15. Newton’s Third Law
  16. N. 48, April 2004: Intellectual Midwifery
  17. Come & Receive your Miracle: A Sunday Afternoon at a Robert Tilton Crusade
  18. The Truth About The Bible And Evolution
  19. Questioning the Validity of False Memory Syndrome
  20. The Curse of Being a Skeptic with a Cold
There were 29,010 daily visitors in November, 2010.

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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