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Skeptic Summary #381

By The Staff
Posted on: 3/3/2013

Atheist church, cannabis cures, free will, porn-legal, synthetic fuel, skeptic movement origins, NOVA beta and more!

Week ending March 03, 2013 (Vol 10, #3)

Welcome to the Skeptic Summary, a quick, bi-weekly review of the Skeptic Friends Network and the rest of the skeptical world.

Forum Highlights:
Atheist church in London is a run-away success - An abandoned church gets new occupants.

Cannabis cures cancer! (not) - But can bring comfort while you die.

Free will and hunger - If you’re influenced by a growling stomach, is your choice still free?

Should you have to be 18 to feature in porn? - Comparisons with the age of consent.

Zero emission synfuel from seawater - Scrubbing CO2 from the atmosphere may not be so dumb after all.

Editor’s Choice: Why is there a Skeptical Movement? - Discussing the scope of skepticism and activism.

Kil’s Evil Pick:
NOVA beta — Yes, it’s true. I have highlighted episodes from PBS’s fantastic science series, NOVA, before in these picks of mine. I didn’t bother to pick NOVA itself before now because hey, who doesn’t know that it’s by far the best continuing science series on television? If you don’t know that, you probably aren’t reading this Pick anyhow.

NOVA Online has been around for a while now. There’s no secret about that. But things have changed and they are continuing to change. They have improved many of the features that were there (but I can’t show you the differences because it’s all NOVA beta now) by bringing it all together in a way that is much easier to use.

About This Beta:

Our Website Has Changed — Here’s Why
So what’s a beta anyway? If you’ve visited
NOVA Online in the past, this site will look and feel very different. That’s because we’ve come up with some new ways to design, organize, and present our content to make it more useful for you.

Since 1996, NOVA — the most-watched prime-time science series on American television — has been working with journalists and scientists around the world to put great web-original content online. Today we have thousands of resources covering everything from string theory to the evolution of flight to how the Pyramids were built.

But it’s time for an overhaul so we can make it easier for you to find more of what you’re looking for. This is just a first step, with a small fraction of our entire site presented in this new way. It’s a chance for us to evolve, test new ideas, and get your feedback. Over time, our goal is to migrate all
NOVA content into this new site, and to continue to improve on what we’ve done here.

But for now, take a look around and tell us what you think. What do you like? What don’t you like? Have you found a bug? Please send an e-mail to We’re looking forward to hearing from you. And, if you can’t find what you’re looking for, search the
NOVA Archive…
There’s a note about broswer compatibility, but take it with a grain of salt. I’m using Chrome for Mac and the site is working perfectly. Also, don’t worry about there not being enough content. I’m unsure of how long they have been working on this change, but there’s loads of content. And I mean several days’ worth. And more if you are unwilling to skip meals to surf NOVA beta!

So what’s there? I only need to choose one of the categories on the menu to give you an idea. How about Nature? That should keep us occupied for a while. Right off they are featuring three stories. Click the photo going by on New Species in the Old World and listen to the story. Click another and there is an interactive on Bugs That Live on You. (Is that one of those fun gross-out stories that we love even though it leaves us itching for more?) Then there are the editors’ picks like Australia: First 4 Billion Years. That one is really an ad for an upcoming NOVA show appearing on your TV next month. (And as usual, it will soon after be available online for later streaming.) The ad includes a program description, showing dates and so on. It’s a heads-up which is fine because it’s the PBS NOVA series that makes this site possible. Plus we love NOVA.

Moving along… Under Nature and all the other menu items that you would expect to see on a science site is a list of pages for your watching, reading and viewing pleasure, and they are only a click away:
Article (23)
Audio Slide Show (5)
Audio Story (4)
Episode Transcript (2)
Expert Q&A (15)
Full Episode (11)
Interactive (18)
Interview (11)
Producer’s Story (1)
Quiz (3)
Slide Show (23)
Video Short (31)
By the way, the Nature menu shows 166 links, and that’s not even close to the most items in a category. Body+ Brain has 295. And there are nine menu items in all! So there is no shortage of really cool stuff to learn and be entertained by. And because NOVA beta is rather new, expect it to grow. As they said, “This is just the beginning.”

I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.
— Mark Twain

Please come join us for chat every Wednesday at 10 PM Eastern time (7PM Pacific). More information can be found in this forum post.

New Members This Week:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
5 Easy Ways to Spot a B.S. News Story on the Internet

The Absurdity of the ‘Rational Science’ Method

Chips Ahoy! Gadzooks! And Oh, This Poor Woman.

Doubtful News

Dowsing for hepatitis

The Grubbies Growl and Grumble-Pt.1

How Big is the Universe?

I don’t care how smart you are. You can be fooled.

Is Technology Making Doctors Dumber?

Most Americans predict humans on Mars by 2033, are utterly deluded about NASA’s budget

Most cardiac patients report using alternative treatments

Name-brand or generic? Your political ideology might influence your choice

An open letter to Penn & Teller about their appearance on The Dr. Oz Show

Parents turn to homeopathic remedies to treat children with colds

Rocks From Space — And Rocks In The Head

Scientology Mythbusting with Jon Atack: That L. Ron Hubbard TV Ad!

Sexist photo makes Facebook joke 200 times more popular, and prompts rape comments

Wag the God: Looking for easy answers at the Creation Museum

What happens when you study conspiracy theories? The conspiracy theorists make up conspiracy theories about you!

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:
“It’s Not About the Sex” My Ass, by Steve Cuno (Author) and Joanne Hanks (Co-editor, Contributor).

“With wit, humor and style, Joanne Hanks takes you on a wild ride through the insanity of the Mormon-based polygamist cult that was her life for seven years. Get ready to laugh. Get ready to be outraged. And get ready to see polygamy as no one has ever revealed it before. Joanne tells their crazy story with humor, satire-and insight. You’ll share her angst over sharing her husband. You’ll meet her ‘sister wives,’ a prophet calling himself a ‘celestial stud service’ who seeks divine guidance on threesomes, and apostles who dress in weird robes to curse the White House. You’ll fume at gut-wrenching tales of racism, sexual abuse, fraud, and manipulation. And you’ll find out why no one remembers when Jesus destroyed the world on March 26, 2000. “It’s Not About The Sex” My Ass is more than an entertaining read. It’s a cautionary tale about the power of delusional thinking, and a hopeful tale of one family that came to their senses and found the courage to leave.”

— Book Description

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  2. Should pedophilia be legal?
  3. Rebecca Watson not appearing at TAM
  4. Poaching making China elephants evolve tuskless
  5. Arguments for the prohibition of drugs
  6. Quantum computers cannot be said....
  7. Bay leaves myth
  8. Stan Lee’s superhumans
  9. Scattershots: gargoyles & grotesques
  10. The Illuminati are actually a force for good
  1. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  2. Evolving a Venom or Two
  3. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  4. Calorad
  5. Quantum Age Water
  6. Laetrile
  7. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  8. Free the Glutens, or When a Cookie isn’t Just a Cookie
  9. The Legend of the Shrinking Sun
  10. Cold Reading
There were 6,263 daily visitors this week.
Last Month’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  2. Stan Lee’s superhumans
  3. The Mayan skeptic apocalypse
  4. Why is there a Skeptical Movement?
  5. Rebecca Watson not appearing at TAM
  6. Fighting back
  7. Scattershots: gargoyles & grotesques
  8. Kitsch ‘artist’ Thomas Kinkade dies at 54
  9. The Skeptic Summary
  10. Quantum computers cannot be said....
  11. Brain telepathy - STOP telepathic psycho terror on
  12. Latest on the "Antikythera Mechanism"
  13. Zero emission synfuel from seawater
  14. Crib or Family Bed - which is safer for infants?
  15. The Illuminati are actually a force for good
  16. Jesus tempts Satan
  17. ‘Mirror Matter’ and the question of ‘soul’
  18. Scientist: No knuckle-walkers in human ancestry
  19. Cannabis cures cancer! (not)
  20. Laser therapy (photo-bio-modulation)
  1. Evolving a Venom or Two
  2. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  3. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  4. Calorad
  5. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  6. Free the Glutens, or When a Cookie isn’t Just a Cookie
  7. Skeptic Summary #380
  8. Cold Reading
  9. Quantum Age Water
  10. How Do Vaccines Work?
  11. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  12. The Legend of the Shrinking Sun
  13. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony!
  14. Laetrile
  15. Preaching that Anti-Evolution Propaganda
  16. Scientific Truth
  17. TAM5
  18. Strategy Ideas for Skeptics
  19. The Biblical support for a Flat Earth and Geocentricism
  20. Skeptic Summary #44
There were 25,606 daily visitors in February, 2013.

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 2013, all rights reserved.

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