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Skeptic Summary

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Skeptic Summary #360

By The Staff
Posted on: 4/8/2012

Falsifiability, freethought, aurorae, understanding, Trayvon, the Museum of Hoaxes and more!

Week ending April 08, 2012 (Vol 9, #9)

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:
Christianity, immaterialism and falsifiability - What’s the difference between absolute truth and objective reality?

Free thinking - Opinions free from thought.

Northern Lights site recommendations? - An observation of something that wasn’t Aurora Boralis.

One could understand - …why most SFN members don’t believe in God.

Editor’s Choice: Unarmed Trayvon Martin gunned down - A fatal shooting, and interpreting gun laws.

Kil’s Evil Pick:
The Museum of Hoaxes — Before we go on, I must first admit to stealing this pick from myself. It was my featured pick in our Skeptic Summary #48. Check out my effusive description of The Museum of Hoaxes, back in July, 2005. Things sure have changed around here. This might be the beginning of a series of revisits to some of my Stone Age picks. I’m not sure. I guess you’ll find out when and if I decide to bring another one back. As for this one, the decision to highlight the site again was an easy one to make.

I suppose the first thing I should mention is that while the The Museum of Hoaxes website is extensive, the actual museum exists in downtown San Diego, California, out there in the non-virtual world, and one day, I will visit it. But for now, its online existence will have to do for me. And that’s not a bad thing at all.

Not caught in San Diego. Or anywhere else for that matter.

Here’s a description of the site from the ABOUT page:
The Museum of Hoaxes was established in 1997. It explores deception, mischief, and misinformation throughout history, playing host to a variety of humbugs and hoodwinks — from ancient fakery all the way up to modern schemes, dupes, and dodges that circulate online.

The museum is divided into a variety of different sections. The historical wing presents a selection of history’s most notorious hoaxes, from the Middle Ages right up to the present. Our Gallery of April Fool’s Day hoaxes celebrates that one day of the year devoted to pranks and practical jokes. The Hoax Photo Archive demonstrates that photography has never been an entirely trustworthy medium of information. And the Tall-Tale Creature Gallery delves into the natural history of species such as the Jackalope and Fur-Bearing Trout.

Take a look around and check out the exhibits. Marvel at the woman who gave birth to rabbits, be astounded by the Swiss spaghetti trees, and shocked by the Bonsai Kittens. Try to decide if you would have fallen for any of the hoaxes. Just remember that there’s no claim so stupid that someone, somewhere won’t believe it!

Whoa! Brace yourselves. It seems I also featured The Museum of Hoaxes in our Skeptic Summary #185 in April, 2008. Welp. I guess the joke is on me! But there’s no turning back now. Plus, that one didn’t contain nearly as much text, and no photos at all. And If I couldn’t remember picking it again back then, why should I expect that you do? (Actually, it’s been mentioned several times in threads on this site, but who’s counting?)

The Cottingley Fairies

The site is the work of Alex Boese, who says this about it:
I created the Museum of Hoaxes back in 1997. It began as research notes for my doctoral dissertation but soon made its way onto the web where it rapidly transformed into a full-time means for me to procrastinate. As proof of this, I never finished the dissertation, but the Museum, during the same period of time, grew enormously. It’s hard to determine exactly how many people have visited the site, but it averages a little over one million page views every month. Theoretically that could be from my mother hitting the refresh button a million times every month.
Well we know it’s not just his mother hitting the refresh button because The Museum of Hoaxes seems to get mentioned enough around here. That alone should be of some comfort to Alex…

[Chakras] are special points on the body through which money can be extracted from Californians.

Chat Highlights:
Wednesday, the 21st: The Chat logging started one hour late because Dr. Mabuse was too busy at work. Once there, discussion was about going to TAM. Seems the speaker list is still a bit thin. Storm entertained us with ideas of man evolving from aliens-and-ape hybrids. This sparked several threads at once: DNA and that differences make hybridization among the great apes impossible, the existence of aliens to begin with and their ability to visit us, and Big Foot. All water off a duck’s back. The chat finished up with possible scenarios for the upcoming Tampa GOP meeting.

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:
the happy body

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
20 Things You Didn’t Know About… Clouds

5 Mind-Blowing Things Found in Our Own Solar System

Brain Imaging Study Finds Evidence of Basis for Caregiving Impulse

But, It’s Just a Troll!

Dinosaur True Colors Revealed for First Time

The Dinosaurs Of Eden

Doubtful Newsblog

Eat dirt

Ehrman Trashtalks Mythicism

Europe still keen on Mars missions

Grenade-throwing robot to fight fires on ships

Ground Beef Contains Pink Slime

Guilty verdict in Rutgers webcam spying case

Heaven Can Wait

Hieroglyphics turn prisoner away from a life of crime

Hornet-killing honeybees’ brain activity measured

How hearing aids reveal the soundtrack of our emotions

Humans killed off Australia’s giant beasts

If Everyone Does One Thing…

Innorobo 2012: Is the dream of having a robot companion over?

Kony 2012’s Visible Funding: Invisible Children’s anti-gay, creationist, Christian right donors

Learning From the Spurned and Tipsy Fruit Fly

Mapping early human settlements in Syria, Iraq

MSNBC’s excellent coverage of the upcoming foxhole atheist festival

Mysterious nodding disease debilitates children

NASA Releases New WISE Mission Catalog of Entire Infrared Sky

Nate Phelps’ Sadness

New fossil finds filling in history of tetrapods

New Jason Russell THE NAKED MELTDOWN From Up Close

Nifty ways to leave your lover: The tactics people use to entice and disguise the process of human mate poaching.

Oklahoma House of Representatives Turns Into a House of Worship

Oldest Organism With Skeleton Discovered in Australia

A Pirate’s Life for Me: Celebrating the Science of Pirates

Prehistoric proteins: Raising the dead

Psychics censoring our abusive messages, say dead people

Rabid Dog Briefly Mistaken for Tea Party Candidate

‘Red Deer Cave’ people, possibly a new human species?

Rethink your dog roaming freely

Rush Limbaugh, Free Speech, and How Gloria Allred is Being a Jerk

S. Korean, Russian scientists bid to clone mammoth

School Assembly Goes Off the Rails

Skepticality #178 — You Are Not So Smart

Small DNA circles found outside the chromosomes in mammalian cells and tissues, including human cells

Underwater dog photos go viral

We ate Neil deGrasse Tyson

‘We Have No Choice’: One Woman’s Ordeal with Texas’ New Sonogram Law

What Fukushima accident did to the ocean

Where data meet diction: Science and sci-fi's dialogue

Why Magicians Are a Scientist’s Best Friend

Worldnutdaily Pushing Creationist Fraud

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

Book of the Week:
Hippo Eats Dwarf: A Field Guide to Hoaxes and Other B.S., by Alex Boese.

“Can you grow a bonsai kitten? Should you stock up on dehydrated water? Is it easy to order human-flavored tofu? Or is this all just B.S.?

In a world of lip synching, breast implants, payola punditry, and staged reality shows, it’s hard to know the real from the fake. Hippo Eats Dwarf is the essential field guide to today’s Misinformation Age. Whether you’re deciphering political doublespeak or trying to decide whether to forward that virus warning, hoaxpert Alex Boese provides the guidelines you need. For instance, Reality Rule 6.1: Just because you read it on the Internet doesn’t make it true.

With case files, reality checks, definitions, and plenty of doctored photos, Hippo Eats Dwarf is an entertaining guide to life, death, eBay, and everything in between.”

— Book Description

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Little-a versus big-A atheism
  2. Funny FAILS
  3. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  4. Ex-student kills seven at small creationist college
  5. Unarmed Trayvon Martin gunned down
  6. The Battle of Tehran
  7. The Supper
  8. Fif50ty FreAkieSt AnIMaLS
  9. Bedini motor
  10. Shit New Age Girls Say
  1. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  2. Evolving a Venom or Two
  3. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  4. Scientific Truth
  5. What is a Skeptic and Why Bother Being One?
  6. Evolution, Scientology Style
  7. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  8. Cold Reading
  9. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  10. The Legend of the Shrinking Sun
There were 7,296 daily visitors this week.
Last Month’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  2. Funny FAILS
  3. Little-a versus big-A atheism
  4. Shit New Age Girls Say
  5. Scattershots: gargoyles & grotesques
  6. Fif50ty FreAkieSt AnIMaLS
  7. A difficult post
  8. Of Serpents and Men
  9. Limbaugh goes too far; some sponsors bailing
  10. Unarmed Trayvon Martin gunned down
  11. Ron Paul: not your hero
  12. Stan Lee’s superhumans
  13. Jesus tempts Satan
  14. DMV Senior Motorcyclist Handbook
  15. The Battle of Tehran
  16. Christianity, immaterialism and falsifiability
  17. One could understand
  18. God’s ‘shyness’ makes ID hard to prove?
  19. Beelzebufo ampinga
  20. ‘Zion Oil’ getting into hot water?
  1. Evolving a Venom or Two
  2. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  3. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  4. Scientific Truth
  5. Laetrile
  6. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  7. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  8. Kent Hovind is a Kwazy Kweationist
  9. What is a Skeptic and Why Bother Being One?
  10. Cold Reading
  11. TAM4
  12. How Do Vaccines Work?
  13. Skeptic Summary #287
  14. Evolution, Scientology Style
  15. Free the Glutens, or When a Cookie isn’t Just a Cookie
  16. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony!
  17. N. 25, June 2002: Ecology vs. ecophily — being reasonable about saving the environment
  18. The Legend of the Shrinking Sun
  19. The Truth About The Bible And Evolution
  20. Natural Childbirth: Under the Skeptical Movement's Radar?
There were 30,945 daily visitors in March, 2012.

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 2012, all rights reserved.

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