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Skeptic Summary #319

By The Staff
Posted on: 2/12/2011

Darwin, teachers, atheism, coincidences, tons of Darwin and more!

Week ending February 12, 2011 (Vol 8, #7)

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 that everyone had a happy and productive Darwin Day, and would like to point out that the documentary on the 2005 Kansas creationism hearings, titled Kansas v. Darwin, is available for streaming free until March 12th. If you don’t think it’s worth 82 minutes of your time, you can read our review.

Forum Highlights:
High school teachers reluctant to endorse evolution - 13% violate the Constitution; a whopping 60% are fence-sitters.

I must be bad at being an atheist - No, and you’re good at being a friend.

Wow! - How quickly can a thread devolve with a little “Christian” input.

Kil’s Evil Pick:
The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online — Today is the anniversary of evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin’s 202nd birthday. I can think of no better way to commemorate his birth than to direct you to The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. The site includes Darwin’s publications, his books, articles, papers and manuscripts and many supplementary works, including letters, drawings, an autobiography and much, much more.

What follows was taken from the Darwin Online Facebook info page (where I was able to find the most concise description of the site by the people who administrate it):
Company Overview:

Founded by John van Wyhe in 2002, Darwin Online is dedicated to researching and publishing online free of charge the complete publications and notes of Charles Darwin.


To provide free online everything Darwin ever wrote (excluding unpublished correspondence) in searchable form, as well as useful materials by others both historical and modern — and to continue research on Darwin and his life and works and to make these known to a wide audience.


The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online (or Darwin Online) is the largest and most widely consulted edition of the writings of Darwin ever published. Including at least one exemplar of all known Darwin publications, reproduced to the highest scholarly standards, both as searchable text and electronic images of the originals. The majority of these have been edited and annotated for the first time with thousands of original editorial notes.
The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online is an extraordinary resource and perhaps, one of a kind. Do yourself a favor if you haven’t already, and check it out. If you have any interest in Charles Darwin at all, and I know that you do, you will love the site.

I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars.
— Charles Darwin

Chat Highlights:
Wednesday: We started out trading stories of working and trading, then strangely changed subject to rabbits. Driving domestic vehicles isn’t for everyone (neither Danes nor Canadians can). New Age Expo coming up in the LA area. At least at Star Trek conventions they admit the (dilithium) crystals are fake. We also discussed hypothetical New Age Products, just throw in ‘quantum’ or ‘molecular’ or some other science-y words and sell snake oil. The chat ended with electricity and puns. Shockingly bad puns.

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
But Then Came Darwin

Don’t cherry-pick NHS findings, minister

The evolution of teaching evolution

Fossil find puts ‘Lucy’ story on firm footing

The Sad Saga Of Penelope Dingle Concludes — The ‘Vulnerable’ Prey Of Complementary And Alternative Medicine

The Sagan Series (Pt 1) — NASA The Frontier Is Everywhere

The Sagan Series (Pt 2) — Life Looks for Life

The Skeptic’s Dictionary Newsletter #124

Skepticality #147 — Sleights of Mind

Space Planes

A Visit to the International Cryptozoology Museum

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:
A Professor, a President, and a Meteor: The Birth of American Science, by Cathryn J. Prince.

“In the early 1800s, as the American colonies were still adjusting to newly won nationhood, the practice of rigorous science still took a backseat to superstition among working-class citizens. Despite the influence of science-oriented statesmen like Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, most people put more stock in astrological almanacs than Yale professors. Yet by the 1850s the situation had changed dramatically, with the U.S. pulling even with Europe on the world stage of scientific respectability, thanks in large part to one Yale chemistry instructor named Benjamin Silliman. Journalism professor Prince explains how Silliman became a key player in the transformation in this tour-de-force look at early American science. When a fiery meteorite fell over Weston, Massachusetts, in the winter of 1807, Silliman immediately left his New Haven post to study the phenomenon. His subsequent investigations in mineralogy and geology inspired a new generation of scientists and influences astronomers and geologists to this day. A masterful look at the roots of American science and one of its overlooked champions.”

— Booklist

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Wow!
  2. Moon-walker claims alien contact cover-up
  3. The Supper
  4. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  5. Funny FAILS
  6. Webcam, bald eagle nest
  7. ‘David Mabus’ (Dennis Markuze) vs. Nostradamus
  8. PZ expelled from Expelled — Dawkins slips in!
  9. “Obamacare” unconstitutional?
  10. Wrong images of Saturn
  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. Skeptic Summary #318
  7. Cold Reading
  8. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  9. Questioning the Validity of False Memory Syndrome
  10. Miracle Thaw Tray
There were 7,045 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 2011, all rights reserved.

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