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Skeptic Summary #342

By The Staff
Posted on: 9/11/2011

Fire, communications, historicity, atheist registry, homeschooling, charities, drumming, science news and more!

Week ending September 10, 2011 (Vol 8, #30)

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:
House fire - At least Dude is okay.

How to Talk to Your New Age Relative - A pamphlet with sage advice for fresh skeptics.

Is this the best you got - Non-challenging questions from a theist parrot.

Poe? Preacher wants Registry for Atheists - Equating atheists with criminals and other bad people.

Review of 101 Reasons Why I'm a Homeschooler - Homeschooling or unschooling?

Skeptics and Charitable Giving - How do you contribute? Perhaps Charity Navigator will help.

Editor’s Choice: Drummer wanted - A band loses its drummer to Christianity.

Kil’s Evil Pick:
e! Science Newse! Science News is a no-frills popular science news site that updates almost hourly. It’s a great source for staying current in any area of science that interests you. The articles are culled from all of the most important science news sources that exist on the Internet. And it’s all done automatically. What that means is that the content is fresh. If it was reported today, it’s on e! Science News today.

From the About 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? Not that I have any idea of how all of that stuff works, but apparently it does, and it does it well!

The menu includes:
  • Astronomy
  • Space
  • Biology
  • Nature
  • Environment
  • Climate
  • Health
  • Medicine
  • Economics
  • Math
  • Paleontology
  • Archaeology
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
You can also get your news from: Last 7 days, Last 30 days, Last year, and the Latest science news. There’s a search engine for specific news articles or areas of interest. I ran a search on fossils and came up with 100 pages of results starting with the most recent article which happened to be about discovery of an important woolly rhino fossil, which you have probably heard about. Well… At least I have, using e! Science News as my source.

Please check out e! Science News, bookmark it, and go there often!

The trouble with people is not that they don’t know but that they know so much that ain’t so.
— Henry Wheeler Shaw (Josh Billings)

Chat Highlights:
Wednesday, August 31st: Chat started out with Dr. Mabuse bitching about one of his favourite discussion forums (next after Skeptic Friends Network and Skepticality of course) was hacked and severely vandalised. The question popped up, how secure are medical records files on hospital computer systems? More health-care discussion ensued, which eventually evolved into capitalism versus socialism. Terry got crank phone calls, but none of us managed to figure out who it was. We don’t think it was HP though, which decided to bail out of the home computers market. Chat ended earlier than usual, but it was sweet none the less.

Wednesday, September 7th: Chat started out with someone losing both money and a woman but was hopeful to recover. Then making plans to a joint meet with humanists at some pub at Mesa, AZ. We had some talk about car sales and other car-related stuff. Then R2D2-type air-conditioning not cooperating fully, speaking different languages. Kil complained about coming down with a fever and got a barrage of suggestions which reminded us of his Kil Report on a cold. The chat ended with tips on how to save buying food at the store, before closing the chat a little earlier than usual.

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
Academic publishers run a guarded knowledge economy

Atheist Billboard Prompts Angry Reactions

Audio Podcast #101: The Story of Mabus

Can Teachers Criticize Creationism in Class?

Coulter Mangles Science

Do Cosmic Rays Cause Global Warming?

CloudGate: Denialism Gets Dirty, Reputations Are At Stake

Eyewtinesses: Why They Can’t Be Trusted

How to pay for your homeopathic treatments

I Can Dress Myself, Thank You.

Not like a worm?

Sasquatch: the Quest

Shakespeare He Ain’t

The Skeptic’s Dictionary Newsletter #131

Skepticality #164 — Can YOU see the Gorilla?

“Spiritual” atheists explained

The statistical error that just keeps on coming

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:
The Cult of Alien Gods: H.P. Lovecraft and Extraterrestial Pop Culture, by Jason Colavito.

“Combining literary theory, cultural criticism and muckraking, Colavito aims to debunk alternative history — believing, for instance, that aliens genetically engineered human life — but gets swept up in the frenzy of his own arguments and ends up positing ‘the western world is now adrift amidst its own decadence and decline.’ Colavito, a former believer in alternative history, traces the various beliefs’ roots to H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction. He does a fair job of presenting his case, using a great deal of textual analysis, but believers will dismiss it as yet another attempt to suppress the ‘truth,’ while those who haven’t been immersed in the literature are likely to be bewildered or indifferent. Colavito tries to address this concern with broad theories about why such ideas have taken hold and what it shows about the state of humanity, a line of exposition that grows more prevalent and less persuasive as the book progresses; Colavito resorts to sweeping generalizations the reader must buy into for the rest to follow — an especially difficult proposition given Colavito’s credentials (he is a freelance writer, not a historian or sociologist). Though the writing is engaging and the topic intriguing, readers will be frustrated by Colavito’s frequent forays to the soapbox.”

— Publishers Weekly

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Encouraging hints about EEStor supercapacitor
  2. Is this the best you got
  3. Cowardly Agnostics
  4. Day Care Should Be Free
  5. Funny FAILS
  6. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  7. Drummer wanted
  8. How to Talk to Your New Age Relative
  9. Scattershots: gargoyles & grotesques
  10. Hudson Valley UFO
  1. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  2. Evolving a Venom or Two
  3. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  4. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  5. Scientific Truth
  6. Astrology
  7. Miracle Thaw Tray
  8. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  9. Skeptic Summary #341
  10. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony!
There were 6,266 daily visitors this week.
Last Month’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Cowardly Agnostics
  2. Funny FAILS
  3. ‘David Mabus’ (Dennis Markuze) vs. Nostradamus
  4. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  5. The water cooler, part 3
  6. Moon-walker claims alien contact cover-up
  7. Dennis Markuze petition
  8. The B**BQUAKE — 911 — the end of atheism
  9. Skeptically quitting
  10. Fif50ty FreAkieSt AnIMaLS
  11. Scattershots: gargoyles & grotesques
  12. Women skeptics
  13. Crabby Appleton
  14. The scope of skepticism
  15. ‘Zion Oil’ getting into hot water?
  16. Jesus tempts Satan
  17. DMV Senior Motorcyclist Handbook
  18. The Battle of Tehran
  19. I do not like Rebecca Watson (aka skepchick)
  20. Stan Lee’s superhumans
  1. Evolving a Venom or Two
  2. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  3. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  4. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  5. Miracle Thaw Tray
  6. Scientific Truth
  7. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  8. Evidence Cited as Hard Proof of the Existence of Satanic Cults
  9. The PQ Test
  10. Cold Reading
  11. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony!
  12. TAM4
  13. TAM5
  14. What is a Skeptic and Why Bother Being One?
  15. Come & Receive your Miracle: A Sunday Afternoon at a Robert Tilton Crusade
  16. B17
  17. Newton’s Third Law
  18. N. 25, June 2002: Ecology vs. ecophily — being reasonable about saving the environment
  19. Skeptic Summary #340
  20. Quantum Age Water
There were 26,766 daily visitors in August, 2011.

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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