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Skeptic Summary #312

By The Staff
Posted on: 12/25/2010

Soilage, stupidity, the Solstice, the blame game, the Top Ten and more!

Week ending December 25, 2010 (Vol 7, #47)

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:
I will now officially crap my pants - Pat Robertson seems to want to smoke (or sell?) pot, too.

Intelligent Design is stupid - JerryB takes up the case for ID.

’Tis the Winter Solstice… - And good wishes to all who missed the Lunar eclipse.

Pope tries to pin church scandals on secularism - The lack of self-criticism is upsetting.

Kil’s Evil Pick:
The Top 10 Science Stories of 2010 [Slide Show]A microbe with an artificial genome, a volcano with an almost unpronounceable name, a disaster that blackened Gulf waters — these and other events defined this year in science and technology…

Seems only right to link to a list like this right about now. So here it is. Also included are the runner-ups from these Scientific American editor-chosen picks. Have fun!

Authority has every reason to fear the skeptic, for authority can rarely survive in the face of doubt.
— Vita Sackville-West

Chat Highlights:
Wednesday: This was our best chat ever. Well… not really. But it wasn’t bad. Here’s the thing: I have a new cat, and along with our chat host still missing, and no one logging chat, I was busy playing with the new kitty (Boris Catenov) because he finally came out from under my bed after being holed up there for several days. I couldn’t just ignore that and not praise him and play with him at that moment so that he would learn that he was safe in his new home. That’s just how it is when you have pets. To some extent they have the upper paw when it comes to exactly when they will need some particular something. And so, that was chat for me. I’m sure everyone else in chat actually chatted…

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:
Roberta Batorsky

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
Back in Black

Congratulations to Understanding Evolution!

Conspiracy Thinking — Skepticism’s Evil Twin

Female Chimps Play with Stick Dolls

Fossil hunters uncover complete 252m year-old underwater world

How to make homeopathy work

In praise of scientific error

One-Fourth of DNA Born by 2.8 Billion Years Ago

Pentagon Plan Won’t Cover Brain-Damage Therapy

Pope Blames 1970s Society for Pedophile Priests

Science of TRON: Getting Up to Speed with Teleportation and Quantum Computing

A simple plea to the atheist community; Or, How to drive believers nuts with almost no effort at all.

The Skeptic’s Dictionary Newsletter #123

Skeptically Speaking #91 — Religious Artifacts

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:
Swallow: Foreign Bodies, Their Ingestion, Inspiration, and the Curious Doctor Who Extracted Them, by Mary Cappello.

“An American half-dollar. A beaded crucifix. Tooth roots shaped like a tiny pair of pants. A padlock. Scads of peanut kernels and scores of safety pins. A metallic letter Z. A toy goat and tin steering wheel. A Perfect Attendance Pin. One of the most popular attractions in Philadelphia’s world-famous Mütter Museum is the Chevalier Jackson Foreign Body Collection: a beguiling set of drawers filled with thousands of items that had been swallowed or inhaled, then extracted nonsurgically by a pioneering laryngologist using rigid instruments of his own design. How do people’s mouths, lungs, and stomachs end up filled with inedible things, and what do they become once arranged in Jackson’s aura-laden cabinet? What drove Dr. Chevalier Jackson’s peculiar obsession not only with removing foreign bodies from people’s upper torsos but also with saving and cataloging the items that he retrieved?

Animating the space between interest and terror, curiosity and dread, award-winning author Mary Cappello explores what seems beyond understanding: the physiology of the human swallow, and the poignant and baffling psychology that compels people to ingest non-nutritive things. On a quest to restore the narratives that haunt Jackson’s uncanny collection, she discovers that all things are secretly edible. Combining original research with a sympathetic and evocative sensibility, Cappello uncovers a history of racism and violence, of forced ingestion and ‘hysteria,’ of class and poverty that left children to bank their family’s last quarters in their mouths. Here, the seemingly disparate but equally marvelous worlds of the circus and the medical amphitheater meet in characters ranging from sword swallowers and women who lunched on hardware to the sensitive, bullied boy who grew up to be the father of endoscopy.”

— Product Description

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Nazi Christmas
  2. Funny FAILS
  3. The Supper
  4. Moon-walker claims alien contact cover-up
  5. The gays are responsible for Wikileaks!
  6. DMV Senior Motorcyclist Handbook
  7. The Battle of Tehran
  8. ‘Big Farmer’ condemned for disease, suffering
  9. PZ expelled from Expelled — Dawkins slips in!
  10. Intelligent Design is stupid
  1. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  2. Evolving a Venom or Two
  3. Evidence Cited as Hard Proof of the Existence of Satanic Cults
  4. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  5. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  6. Miracle Thaw Tray
  7. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony!
  8. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  9. Skeptic Summary #311
  10. Scientific Truth
There were 5,847 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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