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Skeptic Summary

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Skeptic Summary #369

By The Staff
Posted on: 7/30/2012

The presidency, the madman, the debates and more!


Week ending July 29, 2012 (Vol 9, #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:
An atheist President? - Coming up in the world.

Is James Holmes an agnostic? - Does it matter?



Kil’s Evil Pick:
Science Debate Dot Org — With presidential elections coming up, wouldn’t it be nice if science were a part of the debate? There are four presidential debates scheduled, starting in early October. Domestic or foreign policy or both will be debated. But those are main topics of discussion. The actual questions are up to the moderator in most of the debates, and the idea of Science Debate Dot Org (“An Independent Citizens’ Initiative Asking Candidates For Office To Discuss The Top Science Questions Facing America&rdquo) is to put some pressure on the moderators to make at least some of those questions about science, or for the candidates to possibly have a separate debate on science policy. They are pushing for the same from kind of debates for congressional candidates.


The Call:
Is America Losing its Competitive Edge?

A call for Presidential and Congressional Debates on Science and America’s Future


Given the many urgent scientific and technological challenges facing America and the rest of the world, the increasing need for accurate scientific information in political decision making, and the vital role scientific innovation plays in spurring economic growth and competitiveness, we call for public debates in which the U.S. presidential and congressional candidates share their views on the issues of The Environment, Health and Medicine, and Science and Technology Policy.
At the bottom of The Call page is a link to another page where you can add your name to the list of people who have already signed up and to tell them why you think science policy debates are important, and to offer any suggestions you might have, such as good questions to ask the candidates. There is also a list of issues to choose from that you consider the most important.

You can find the top presidential questions here.


Who we are
Science Debate is a 501(c)(3) organization co-founded and run by volunteer citizens from a variety of walks of life who share the common vision of Thomas Jefferson that “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.” In an age when science influences every aspect of life and lies at the heart of many of our thorniest policy challenges, we believe that candidates for office should be debating and discussing these issues, just like they debate and discuss economics, foreign policy, and even faith. Science Debate is dedicated to elevating science and engineering questions in our national civic dialogue.
You will find a pretty impressive list of people under the above description.

Last, but not least, there’s an up-to-date list of links to News & Hot Topics pertaining to politics as it relates to science.


Please visit Science Debate Dot Org and make your voice heard.

SkeptiQuote:
If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way.
— Bertrand Russell


Chat Highlights:
Wednesday: Alas. It has fallen on me, Kil, to host chat. Well, at least until Dr. Mabuse comes back from holiday. And I did get the first week off when Dave hosted because I was at TAM. The problem with me hosting chat is I can’t log it (we really do need a chat room that isn’t so fussy) and my memory is poor about such things as Terry’s latest Wall Street loses, where Cune is at the moment (Chicago) and how many websites Thor actually has.

Here’s an actual quote for you from chat:
’Cause what I really want to see is the big-guns of skepticism having a bathroom competition to see who can write their name in bigger letters across the wall of a Vegas restroom.
Dave said that. Not me. But I laughed! That quote comes from the missing SFN Skeptic Summary week and unfortunately I can’t (or won’t) provide you with any context.

Anyhow, all of the regulars dropped in, and then some. We had two pretty good weeks of Wednesday-night chats. Oh. And we are considering doing a live face-to-face chat at Google+ if we can get it together enough to do it. Let’s see what happens!

Come chat with us.


New Members This Week:
sweetgirl4you
ashleyhoward
jpf

(Not a member? Become one today!)




Elsewhere in the World:
Climate Scientist Michael Mann Interview, Part 1

Do Atheists Have Deathbed Conversions?

Doubtful Newsblog

Ending the Wedge

Existence of Atheists Offends Christians

How Critical Thinkers Lose Their Faith in God: Religious belief drops when analytical thinking rises

A new study of polar bears underlines the dangers of reconstructing evolution using mitochondrial DNA

Not Like Walking on Sunshine: 21 Firewalkers Injured

Skepticality #186 — Walking with the Psychic Blues

Vatican Runs Huge Deficit

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



Book of the Week:
The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines, by Michael E. Mann.



“The ongoing assault on climate science in the United States has never been more aggressive, more blatant, or more widely publicized than in the case of the Hockey Stick graph — a clear and compelling visual presentation of scientific data, put together by Michael E. Mann and his colleagues, demonstrating that global temperatures have risen in conjunction with the increase in industrialization and the use of fossil fuels. Here was an easy-to-understand graph that, in a glance, posed a threat to major corporate energy interests and those who do their political bidding. The stakes were simply too high to ignore the Hockey Stick — and so began a relentless attack on a body of science and on the investigators whose work formed its scientific basis.

The Hockey Stick achieved prominence in a 2001 UN report on climate change and quickly became a central icon in the ‘climate wars.’ The real issue has never been the graph’s data but rather its implied threat to those who oppose governmental regulation and other restraints to protect the environment and planet. Mann, lead author of the original paper in which the Hockey Stick first appeared, shares the story of the science and politics behind this controversy. He reveals key figures in the oil and energy industries and the media front-groups who do their bidding in sometimes slick, sometimes bare-knuckled ways. Mann concludes with the real story of the 2009 ‘Climategate’ scandal, in which climate scientists’ emails were hacked. This is essential reading for all who care about our planet’s health and our own well-being.”

— Book Description




This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Little-a versus big-A atheism
  2. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  3. how the divine pen of N crushed the atheists
  4. Predictably, the gun control debate heats up
  5. Rebecca Watson not appearing at TAM
  6. Funny FAILS
  7. The Battle of Tehran
  8. Is James Holmes an agnostic?
  9. Wrong images of Saturn
  10. Fif50ty FreAkieSt AnIMaLS
Articles:
  1. Evolving a Venom or Two
  2. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  3. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  4. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  5. Quantum Age Water
  6. Evolution is a Lie
  7. Evolution, Scientology Style
  8. Scientific Truth
  9. What is a Skeptic and Why Bother Being One?
  10. How Do Vaccines Work?
There were 7,398 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 2012, all rights reserved.



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