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Skeptic Summary #341

By The Staff
Posted on: 8/29/2011

Bachmann sexism, skeptical scope, stop the GOP, child abuse, cowardly agnostics, the West Memphis Three and more!

Week ending August 28, 2011 (Vol 8, #29)

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:
Michele Bachmann and Sexism - How is fear of what crazy people might do “sexism?”

The scope of skepticism - Should we confine ourselves to only Scientific Skepticism?

West Memphis Three granted new trial! - They are finally released, except…

What can we do to stop this? - A call for political activism.

Xian child abuse centers - Relgious protests against new anti-abuse law.

Editor’s Choice: Cowardly Agnostics - A True-Believer atheist bashes a straw man he calls agnosticism.

Kil’s Evil Pick:
Free the West Memphis Three — If you have been paying attention, you know by know that Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley have been released from prison after a complicated plea agreement that allowed them to assert their innocence, in court, even though as part of the agreement they had to confess to lesser charges to get their sentences reduced to time served. What that means is they are free, but they are still convicted murderers. They are all on probation for ten years, again, for a crime they didn’t commit.


As far as the prosecution and the State of Arkansas are concerned, with the admission of guilt by the three, the case is settled, and even though there is evidence that would suggest that an investigation should proceed in another direction, they are done with it. There will be no further investigation by the state or by the police of West Memphis, who bungled the investigation in the first place and even destroyed some of the evidence. The bargain also means that the three can’t sue the state, or any of those who sought, for various reasons including politics and just plain old bigotry, a quick capture and conviction of the three. It seems that no one involved in the prosecution of the three is willing to admit the obvious. They are clearly invested in protecting their own asses, the coffers of the state along with people and agencies responsible for stealing 18 years of the lives of three men and justice for a terrible crime that in their view, because they know how it would reflect upon them, is best left unsolved.

Due to political expedience, their murders will remain unsolved.

Reading the Brief Overview of the case at the Free the West Memphis Three site and the Case Synopsis along with the Evidence Archive and tons of other information on the case that can be found on the site, and what it all seems to boil down to is this:
Although there was no physical evidence, murder weapon, motive, or connection to the victims, the prosecution pathetically resorted to presenting black hair and clothing, heavy metal t-shirts, and Stephen King novels as proof that the boys were sacrificed in a satanic cult ritual. Unfathomably, Echols was sentenced to death, Baldwin received life without parole, and Misskelley got life plus 40.
Such were the ways of satanic panic.

Right now, the main thing is that Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley are free men. Or at least they are physically free. My hope is that even though the state has no intention of pursuing this case any longer, there will be others willing to step up and help to completely exonerate the three. And that is the reason for my choosing the Free the West Memphis Three site once again. I do believe it’s there that you will find future updates there along those lines.

Judge David Burnett, now a state senator, is in my view, the guiltiest person in the whole WM3 affair, so far.

Since I submitted my pick, a very interesting panel discussion has taken place that includes the prosecutor, lead attorneys for the WM3, the writer of Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three, and a lead activist who has worked for the last 18 years to raise money and awareness in her effort to Free the West Memphis Three. Please see The West Memphis Three: Past, Present and Future:
In partnership with the Arkansas Times, the Clinton School hosts a panel discussion featuring key players in the legal battle that culminated August 19, 2011 with a plea bargain to release Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelley, Jr., who served more than 17 years in prison after being convicted of murdering three young boys in West Memphis, Ark. Known as the “West Memphis Three,” Baldwin, Echols and Misskelley long maintained their innocence and gained national attention to their fight for exoneration.

I do not consider it an insult, but rather a compliment to be called an agnostic. I do not pretend to know where many ignorant men are sure — that is all that agnosticism means.
— Clarence Darrow

Chat Highlights:
Wednesday: We started out discussing how the stockmarket has plummeted (and everyone managed to avoid pointing out the elephant in the room: the Republican sabotage of the budget which is partly to blame). We also talked about the arriving tropical storm that will hit the East Coast. Kil apologised for inviting Officiant from FaceBook. Dr. Mabuse barely had time to tell anything about the trip to Paris. Final thoughts expressed in chat was about Kil may be getting paid and what Markuze might be doing, being “under wraps” of sorts.

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:
Tim Thompson

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
Aliens may destroy humanity to protect other civilisations, say scientists

Best-Selling Author and Grieving Mother Loses $20 Million to ‘Psychics’

Cocktail Party Physics — Friday Fodder

Goodbye, virus…

The GOP candidates have no time for your “science,” scientists

Psychics Challenged, Offered $1 Million to Prove Powers

Skepticality #163 — Extreme Fear

This Week in Intelligent Design

Unemployment is rising — or is that statistical noise?

Vitamin pills can lead you to take health risks

The West Memphis Three: Past, Present and Future

What’s New by Bob Park

Would Neil deGrasse Tyson please run for president?

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

Book of the Week:
Ankylosaur Attack, by Daniel Loxton (Author, Illustrator) and Jim WW Smith (Illustrator).

“[Age Level: 4 and up] This mind-blowing feast for the eye uses photo-realistic, computer-generated images to illustrate what dinosaurs might have looked like in their natural environment. Complementing the extraordinary images is an exciting, scientifically accurate story about a young ankylosaur (a plant-eating, heavy-plated dinosaur) living along the banks of a grassy lake. When he encounters an old ankylosaur, he gently endeavours to make contact, only to be rebuffed. Then a T. rex attacks, and the youngster knows the old dinosaur is in grave danger. Will the T. rex triumph? It looks that way, until the young ankylosaur comes to the rescue, tail club swinging. Ankylosaur Attack is book one in the Tales of Prehistoric Life series. Dramatic stories + eyepopping visuals = a surefire hit with young dinosaur lovers.”

— Book Description

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Cowardly Agnostics
  2. Funny FAILS
  3. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  4. ‘David Mabus’ (Dennis Markuze) vs. Nostradamus
  5. Moon-walker claims alien contact cover-up
  6. The Battle of Tehran
  7. Scattershots: gargoyles & grotesques
  8. A snake in the night
  9. What can we do to stop this?
  10. Fif50ty FreAkieSt AnIMaLS
  1. Evolving a Venom or Two
  2. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  3. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  4. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  5. Scientific Truth
  6. Newton’s Third Law
  7. Cold Reading
  8. B17
  9. Miracle Thaw Tray
  10. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
There were 6,107 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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