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Skeptic Summary #323

By The Staff
Posted on: 3/19/2011

Goosebumps, Japan, poverty, happy and fun, the Hitch and more!

Week ending March 19, 2011 (Vol 8, #11)

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:
Goosebumps. Who needs them? - Good question. But they can still be cool.

Japan - The Japanese nuclear disaster thread is going critical.

‘War on Poverty’ — Repug style? - A bill to keep a watchful eye on poor peoples’ use of public assistance.

Editor’s Choice: Happy Fun Ball revealed! - I LOLed.

Kil’s Evil Pick:
Christopher Hitchens Talk At TAM5 — Here’s the TAM talk by guest speaker Christopher Hitchens about the media’s handling of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy after the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published twelve editorial cartoons, most of which depicted the Islamic prophet Muhammad. If you recall, all hell broke loose across the Muslim world with protests and even some deaths and the threat of more deaths if the cartoons, or really, any satirical depiction of Mohammed were published again.

TAM 5 was called Skepticism And The Media and Hitchens discussion was right on topic. He does not look kindly on the widespread self-censorship that ensued after the publication of the cartoons by most of the mainstream media outlets.

The infamous Kurt Westergaard/Jyllands-Posten cartoons

Thanks to the James Randi Educational Foundation for making this video available. They say:
In an effort to make our extensive video library available online free of charge, The James Randi Educational Foundation is posting high quality digital video lectures and sessions from previous Amaz!ng Meetings and other events on Check back often to see the latest video content.
Good deal!

(Is it cool to mention that I was at TAM5 and saw this talk in person?)

Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.
— Carl Sagan

Chat Highlights:
Wednesday: Chat started small, got big in the middle and ended small again. Sort of like many of the sauropod dinosaurs that once walked the earth. We had some new folks drop by. Sanity and Sketch. Also, Chef payed us a little visit. And of course, there was the usual ragtag group of die-hard regulars. Talk ranged from the terrible goings on in Japan and some silly notions that the crisis has spawned, to the politics of neurobiology and language, to my dinner (which is always a highlight of chat for me). We also talked about delusions and psychosis, and I was accused of using a logical fallacy, which is impossible for me to do, and so the accusation was, by default, a logical fallacy. And a good time was had by all who attended…

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
A case of never letting the source spoil a good story

Cats manipulate their owners with a cry embedded in a purr

Dr. Oz Says Psychic John Edward “Changed My Life”

From Single Cells, a Vast Kingdom Arose

Fun with a clueless Daylight Saving Time rant

Gobsmacked by germ theory denialism. Again.

Japanese Radiation Victims Offered Worthless Treatment

An Omnivorous Animal Agenda

Oz, the Great and Gullible

Things that go bump in the night

This Week in Intelligent Design

Top 10 Signs Of Evolution In Modern Man

What the Hell is a Supermoon?

What’s New by Bob Park

Why Arguing Improves Students’ Reasoning Skills

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

Book of the Week:
Life of Earth: Portrait of a Beautiful, Middle-Aged, Stressed Out World, by Stanley A. Rice.

“In this ‘biography of planet Earth,’ biologist Rice combines a dizzying array of science history with pop culture references and occasional doses of snark to craft a most unusual title. One does not usually find mentions of ‘space cowboy’ Bruce Willis, cats as catalysts, or God and angels all in the same discussion, but Rice is fearless and well read (James Thurber on sex, Kissinger on power, Darwin on everything). His insistence on writing about the planet rather than life on the planet frames the typical climate discussion in a new light, while also allowing the author to riff on everything from photosynthesis to altruism. The latter, framed as an obvious evolutionary step, brings his argument full circle from how the planet is to what it can be. His assertion that survival of the fittest is not about brute strength but rather exists ‘in animal species for which society is the most important aspect of the environment’ goes against the grain, but clearly is a conclusion that merits further study. Thought-provoking and funny, this is science nonscientists can embrace.”

— Booklist

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. The Supper
  2. ETs are here, despite guesses to the contrary
  3. Moon-walker claims alien contact cover-up
  4. Japan
  5. Funny FAILS
  6. Webcam, bald eagle nest
  7. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  8. ScienceBlogs DDoS attack
  9. Bills planned to legalize abortion murders??
  10. Fif50ty FreAkieSt AnIMaLS
  1. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  2. Evolving a Venom or Two
  3. Evil Skeptic and a Visit to Awareness 2000
  4. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  5. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  6. Cold Reading
  7. Scientific Truth
  8. Skeptic Summary #322
  9. Miracle Thaw Tray
  10. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
There were 7,160 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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