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Skeptic Summary #313

By The Staff
Posted on: 1/2/2011

Happy New Year, more old people, odd gifts, ID, top science news and more!

Week ending January 01, 2011 (Vol 8, #1)

Welcome to the Skeptic Summary, a quick week-in-review guide to the Skeptic Friends Network and the rest of the skeptical world.

The staff of the Skeptic Friends Network hopes you have a happy and productive 2011!

Forum Highlights:
And then there were four - The more the merrier!

Odd gifts - Seems better than a lump of coal.

Editor’s Choice: Intelligent Design is stupid - JerryB continues the mediocrity.

Kil’s Evil Pick:
Most popular science news & articles of the past 365 days — I found a site called e! Science News. Consider the whole site as my pick, even though I thought that the last year in science was a good way to start the a new year of Evil Picks. From last year there was the complete Neanderthal genome sequenced , a newly discovered planet that may be the first truly habitable exoplanet or perhaps you will find it interesting that fossilized giant penguin that reveals unusual colors, sheds light on bird evolution. It was quite a year. And the e! Science News site is a great place to review the years biggest science news.

You can check the site to see what’s going on in science now, or the last seven days, or the last 30 days or even the last last year. The site is also broken down into these categories:
  • Astronomy/Space
  • Biology/Nature
  • Environment/Climate
  • Health/Medicine
  • Economics/Math
  • Paleontology/Archaeology
  • Physics/Chemistry
  • Psychology/Sociology
From the About e! Science News page:
Meet our editor

There is no human editor behind e! Science News; it is powered by the e! news engine, a fully automated artificial intelligence. Its sole purpose is to ensure that you have access to the very latest and popular science breakthroughs. To achieve this, it constantly surfs the web to gather, regroup, categorize, tag and rank science news from all major science news sources.

It computes relationships between science articles and news found on the web using a vector space model and hierarchical clustering. It then automatically determines in which category each news item belongs using a Naive Bayes classifier. Finally, it examines multiple parameters (such as timeliness, rate of appearance on the web, number of sources reporting the news, etc) for each news group. The result is an e! score which represents the relative importance of a news item.

Thanks to e! Science News, you now have a smart way to keep up to date with fast-evolving science!

e! Science News was built and is maintained by Michael Imbeault, PhD student in Retrovirology & Bioinformatics. The site is not affiliated with any linked-to publications or sites.
Pretty cool, eh? I’ve been perusing it since I happily found it, and I will be adding it as a personal science news resource for my own use. I have little doubt that once you check the site out, you will be doing the same.

Science is another important field of human effort. Science is the pursuit of pure truth, and the systematizing of it. In such an employment as that, one might reasonably hope to find all things done in honesty and sincerity. Not at all, my ardent and inquiring friends, there is a scientific humbug just as large as any other.
— PT Barnum

Chat Highlights:
Wednesday: Well, I must admit, chat was a complete blowout last week. Two of us showed up with nothing much to say. I’m attributing the low (almost no) turnout to the holidays. Anyhow, I closed up shop early because… why not? So if any of you showed up after chat, which was brief, sorry about that. The good news is that even on a bad night it isn’t usually as bad as it was last Wednesday night. So don’t let this dismal chat summary stop you from coming to chat!

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
2010 Psychic Predictions Roundup: Audience and Professionals on Coast to Coast AM Majorly Fail

Attacks on philosophy by scientists

Cassini Celebrates 10 Years Since Jupiter Encounter

Celebrities and Science 2010

Celebrity snake oil does odd things to you when absorbed

Changes Are Coming — Things We’ll Be Saying Goodbye To

Double Podcast Teaser: Our first anniversary, and is anthropology still a science?

For New Year’s Resolution: Climate Change Perspective

The Idea That Drug Addicts Should Be Treated, Not Locked Up, Is Making Waves

Know Not Only What You Know, But Why and How You Know It

A New Year’s Resolution for the Rich.

NightLightDetectives — EVP

What’s New by Bob Park

Why is the north magnetic pole racing toward Siberia?

The year in food

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

Book of the Week:
Your Inner Fish: a Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body, by Neil Shubin.

“Fish paleontologist Shubin illuminates the subject of evolution with humor and clarity in this compelling look at how the human body evolved into its present state. Parsing the millennia-old genetic history of the human form is a natural project for Shubin, who chairs the department of organismal biology and anatomy at the University of Chicago and was co-discoverer of Tiktaalik, a 375-million-year-old fossil fish whose flat skull and limbs, and finger, toe, ankle and wrist bones, provide a link between fish and the earliest land-dwelling creatures. Shubin moves smoothly through the anatomical spectrum, finding ancient precursors to human teeth in a 200-million-year-old fossil of the mouse-size part animal, part reptile tritheledont; he also notes cellular similarities between humans and sponges. Other fossils reveal the origins of our senses, from the eye to that wonderful Rube Goldberg contraption the ear. Shubin excels at explaining the science, making each discovery an adventure, whether it’s a Pennsylvania roadcut or a stony outcrop beset by polar bears and howling Arctic winds. I can imagine few things more beautiful or intellectually profound than finding the basis for our humanity… nestled inside some of the most humble creatures that ever lived, he writes, and curious readers are likely to agree.”

— Publishers Weekly

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Intelligent Design is stupid
  2. Funny FAILS
  3. The Supper
  4. Moon-walker claims alien contact cover-up
  5. Alan Grayson to Chris Matthews on the swine Cheney
  6. DMV Senior Motorcyclist Handbook
  7. The Battle of Tehran
  8. PZ expelled from Expelled — Dawkins slips in!
  9. ‘Big Farmer’ condemned for disease, suffering
  10. The gays are responsible for Wikileaks!
  1. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  2. Evolving a Venom or Two
  3. The PQ Test
  4. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  5. Scientific Truth
  6. Preaching that Anti-Evolution Propaganda
  7. Skeptic Summary #312
  8. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  9. Miracle Thaw Tray
  10. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony!
There were 5,302 daily visitors this week.
Last Month’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Moon-walker claims alien contact cover-up
  2. Funny FAILS
  3. The Supper
  4. The Secret KGB Abduction Files rant
  5. Meet Montealtosuchus arrudacamposi
  6. Intelligent Design is stupid
  7. Nazi Christmas
  8. The Battle of Tehran
  9. Crabby Appleton
  10. PZ expelled from Expelled — Dawkins slips in!
  11. Alan Grayson to Chris Matthews on the swine Cheney
  12. DMV Senior Motorcyclist Handbook
  13. The gays are responsible for Wikileaks!
  14. Fif50ty FreAkieSt AnIMaLS
  15. Scattershots: gargoyles & grotesques
  16. Beelzebufo ampinga
  17. Latest on the "Antikythera Mechanism"
  18. ‘Big Farmer’ condemned for disease, suffering
  19. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  20. Poll: Scott Brown to win Massachusetts
  1. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  2. Evolving a Venom or Two
  3. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  4. Founding Fathers' Beliefs, Two-Spirits
  5. Scientific Truth
  6. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  7. Evidence Cited as Hard Proof of the Existence of Satanic Cults
  8. Kent Hovind is a Kwazy Kweationist
  9. The PQ Test
  10. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  11. Miracle Thaw Tray
  12. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony!
  13. More on the Polonium 218 Controversy
  14. Cold Reading
  15. TAM5
  16. Preaching that Anti-Evolution Propaganda
  17. Come & Receive your Miracle: A Sunday Afternoon at a Robert Tilton Crusade
  18. Quantum Age Water
  19. Newton’s Third Law
  20. N. 25, June 2002: Ecology vs. ecophily — being reasonable about saving the environment
There were 28,507 daily visitors in December, 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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