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Skeptic Summary #330

By The Staff
Posted on: 5/14/2011

Oh Canada, decay rates, rocket science and more!

Week ending May 14, 2011 (Vol 8, #18)

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:
Canada veers right - Highlighting constitutional differences.

Decay rates changing? - Another mystery for science to irradiate illuminate.

Kil’s Evil Pick:
Not Exactly Rocket Science — Located on the DISCOVER site, home to several great science blogs, Not Exactly Rocket Science is sometimes about rocket science. And every other science that is science. The site is up-to-date, with an archive that goes back to Febuary 2008. And with over 1000 posts, if you haven’t been to this blog, you can get lost here for days reading articles on your favorite scientific subjects. This multimedia blog is written for those of us who aren’t scientists, but then again, my guess is there are plenty of scientists who follow this blog. The articles are easy to understand and yet you never get the feeling that they are being dumbed down for the reader.

The site is the creation of science writer Ed Yong who, as the site explains, “is an award-winning British science writer. His work has appeared in New Scientist, the Times, WIRED, The Guardian, Nature and more. Not Exactly Rocket Science is his attempt to talk about the awe-inspiring, beautiful and quirky world of science to as many people as possible.”

Ed Yong

The category list is vast and includes Year in review archives, for your browsing pleasure. And look what I just found: A complete list of posts from this blog. Pretty impressive, eh? But really, it’s the quality of the writing that makes these articles stand out.

I could go on, and on, but I’m not going to. It’s now up to you to get over to Not Exactly Rocket Science and check it out. You’ll be happy that you did and probably a little bit smarter for it!

Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.
— George Bernard Shaw

Chat Highlights:
Wednesday: Once again, the nice spring weather outside made a number of SFN regulars make the questionable decision to skip chat. The few who attended continued last week’s discussions on the stock market, oil and other commodities. We also mentioned taxes, Tea Partiers and some dating before deciding to call an early night.

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:
There were no new members this week.

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
Black Magic and Genies Stir Trouble in Iranian Politics

Buzzing: 13-Year Periodic Cicadas Emerge

Could Our Universe Be a Fake?

GOP Assault on Truth: Why Do Conservatives Pretend They Know More About Science Than Scientists?

How can you tell if a policy is working? Run a trial

How speech patterns sway opinions

Microbes from the moon: Mystery solved at last

My Take: Why we fear Friday the 13th

Neanderthals Made a Last Stand at Subarctic Outpost?

On Catholic Priests and Sketchy Skeptics…

The Skeptic’s Dictionary Newsletter #127

Skepticality #155 — Human Hacking

Solving Jigsaw Puzzles in Museum Basements

Ten Amazing Timelapse Videos

What’s New by Bob Park

Why geeks make better adults than the in-crowd

Why haven’t we found evidence for life starting in asteroids?

Will the Royal Wedding Spur Anorexia?

Zombie Ants Have Fungus on the Brain, New Research Reveals

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

Book of the Week:
The Devil in Dover: An Insider’s Story of Dogma v. Darwin in Small-Town America, by Lauri Lebo.

“This is a powerful and wonderfully-told story — but in many ways it’s a very sad story. Lebo points out that Pennsylvania has one of the strongest religious freedom constitutional guarantees in the country. This states (in part) ‘no human authority can, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience, and no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious establishments or modes of worship.’ After the decision, the right and the Christian right &mdashl; or rather, I should say, those who like to call themselves the Christian right — bitterly assailed the judge as an ‘activist’ working against the Constitution, and the plaintiffs and much of the media for being anti-God.

Lebo was a local person: she knew many of the people. She has integrity, which as she relates, often worked to her detriment in the trial. Her boss seemed very concerned at times: he wanted Lebo’s reporting to make it seem as if the drama that was playing out in the courtroom was going equally well for both sides, when clearly such was not the case. Maybe the sports section would have had a headline ‘Penn State Slips Past Dover State 92-0,’ although the Dover trial was not quite that lopsided (63-3 is more realistic, perhaps). Lebo describes her father, a fundamentalist, who often makes the same joke about the ACLU being the ‘American Communist Lawyers Union,’ a minister who believes that anyone who does not accept the entire Bible literally cannot ever be called a Christian, and others on both sides. Many of the plaintiffs showed great courage — vituperative attacks on their children at school, death threats, and the like. So what you get is a very personal view of the case — something virtually impossible for an outsider to achieve.

There’s a lot of disillusionment for Lebo — seeing reporters she knows and respects accused of lying about what was said at school board meetings and threatened with jail — defamation by supposedly Christian people who claimed the Bible as their guide, but who showed no hesitation in committing perjury for their cause. Lebo remembers asking herself plaintively ‘How can they lie like that in Christ’s name?’ When videotape contradicts sworn testimony, you have a problem, as Judge Jones certainly did. There’s a wealth of detail about the testimony on both sides, and the view of the community is compelling reading. A fine book, powerfully told!”

— Reader Review

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Funny FAILS
  2. Moon-walker claims alien contact cover-up
  3. The Supper
  4. Webcam, bald eagle nest
  5. ‘War on Poverty’ — Repug style?
  6. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  7. Decay rates changing?
  8. Did the middle ages exist?
  9. Bills planned to legalize abortion murders??
  10. Canada veers right
  1. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  2. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  3. Evolving a Venom or Two
  4. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  5. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  6. What is a Skeptic and Why Bother Being One?
  7. Evolution is a Lie
  8. Skeptic Summary #329
  9. Miracle Thaw Tray
  10. Cold Reading
There were 6,280 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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