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Skeptic Summary #384

By The Staff
Posted on: 4/21/2013

Helping, viewing, freeing, reminiscing, pleading, trolling and more!

Week ending April 21, 2013 (Vol 10, #6)

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

Atheists Giving Aid is looking for donations to help with the Boston, MA and West, TX tragedies.

Forum Highlights:
New environmental movie out - Has anyone seen it yet? Anyone?

This asshole… - …doesn’t like water being declared a human right.

Where have the years gone? - Old members compare registration dates.

Editor’s Choice: Brian Dunning has pleaded guilty to wire fraud - Big-name skeptics are humans too.

Kil’s Evil Pick:
I enjoy putting in my own two-cents’ worth. And I get plenty of opportunity to do that on the Web. I must face the fact that I like to debate and/or to find a flaw in someone’s thinking and jump in to point it out. That of course, often leads to a debate. In this spot, a couple of weeks ago, I promised myself that I would purge my “friends” list on Facebook of those people who I feel are more trouble than they are worth. You know, people who I have corrected so many times that doing it is more of an exercise in futility then it usually is. And to that end, I have “unfriended” one person.

What the hell? It’s a start, isn’t it?

Take it from me, it’s much easier to be unfriended. Every week at least one person unfriends me. Often more. I dunno. It’s usually over something like my support for GMO research (I’m a corporate lackey) or something else to do with skepticism, or a political issue, or perhaps some people just hate my taste in music or my sense of humor. And perhaps I’m just being purged from someone’s list because we never ever communicate, so there’s no reason for me to be there. I can’t tell you how often people have unfriended me, and when I see it happen, I usually have no idea who my ex-friend is or why we became Facebook friends in the first place.

So ummm, is it trolling to post something provocative just to see who will bite? I’m not talking about a reply in someone else’s thread. I comment in those when I have something to say, usually. When I have something to add to the thread. Like how wrong someone that I don’t know is about something or other. That’s not trolling, although I have been accused of it. I’m just offering a correction. It’s my way. A skeptic’s duty, if you will. No. I’m talking about composing a bogus post to attract people with silly ideas. Is that trolling? I’ve yet to succeed because my real friends know I’m kidding and comment, exposing me while at the same time alerting my would-be victims before they even have a chance to believe whatever nonsense it is that I’m pretending to push. Dang!

Yesterday I tried this one out:
This just in. Monsanto is buying babies on the black market. The plan is to raise them to be Monsanto operatives, totally dedicated to the Monsanto vision of world domination by way of mind-control genes engineered into corn and other GM foods. When contacted, Monsanto refused comment.

I was inspired to post that after seeing the usual Monsanto-is-the-epitome-of-evil meme (and yes, I know they suck in some of their business practices) and more specifically, a post that claimed that Monsanto owns Blackwater. You know… the mercenary (cough, cough) security company that was hired by our government and did some very ugly things in Iraq.

Anyhow, I was busted. But I figure that if I had posted the same thing on one of those Facebook pages that peddles the wisdom coming from some completely whacked site like Natural News, it would have flown.

Some skeptics are very careful in who they debate with, what topic they will debate and so on. Some feel that they should have some professional expertise in the area that they are debating. And I have a lot of respect for those people. Some of them are friends of mine. But my having lived online on a skeptic forum for over fifteen years has instilled in me a rather argumentative online temperament. In fact, I’m that way in person too, when the occasion presents itself. On a forum like ours, the most popular threads are debate threads. So we welcome them. With open arms we welcome every crank, creationist, truther and the guy who said that he was personally abducted by aliens. We’ve seen them all, at one time or another. They come and they go. All too often they go away unhappy, because we weren’t convinced of whatever it was they were selling. Oh well.

I suppose what I’m grappling with here is what for me would be an uncomfortable truth, were it true, and it probably is. Promoting skepticism and critical thinking is important. I think it’s very important. But as much as I’d like to deny it, the truth is that I get off on the chase. I do love the argument part of what we do and I would miss it if everyone suddenly became completely rational in those areas that are of concern to skeptics. So for me, promoting skepticism and critical thinking isn’t just the selfless act of someone trying to bring a little more reason to an unreasonable world. That’s only partly true. The whole truth is that I would miss the unreason if it were it to completely disappear.

And with that in mind, I wonder if I can honestly ask whether I’m a trolling, sometimes, without knowing the answer?

Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth.
— Albert Einstein

Wednesday, April 17th: Dr. Mabuse reporting: we started out noticing that ParaChat has upgraded our chat client. We’re now Flash-enabled if Java isn’t an option. Some time was devoted to rail against the failing mental health services, not only in USA but in Sweden as well. We also railed against the Senate for not passing the gun legislation. A Kent Hovind sermon was offered as evidence against evolution from a chatter’s creationist friend. Then, children stalling for bed and school. Green Day and related genre music. Finally some ideas for building a light-seeking robot.

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:
Russ Dobler
Zhijun Gao

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
Big Foot Mystery Afoot: Bear, Human, or …?

Burzynski Clinic: The Merola-Friendly Version

Cancer patients who use alternative medicine die sooner

China says aims to banish superstition, promote knowledge

The Conspiracy Theory Flowchart “THEY” Don’t Want You To See

Doubtful News

‘Family’ Group Co-Opts Tragedy To Oppose ‘Sexual Liberalism’

Giving space to Andrew Wakefield on MMR isn’t balance, it’s lunacy

The Honest Liar — Homeopathy: Money for Nothing

Humans are very stupid — but we’re smart enough to know it

If empathy is wrong, I don’t want to be right

Is Organic Better? Ask a Fruit Fly

Move to repeal Sorcery Act that criminalizes “witchcraft” in Papua New Guinea

Parents need to know homeopathy does not protect against measles, says MP

Peer Review and the MMR Scandal

Skeptic Presents: The Con Academy, Vol. 1

Skepticality #205 — Goin’ Prehistoric

Try Not To Lump Us Atheists In With The Skeptics

What A Conspiracy Theorist believes

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

Book of the Week:
The Turbulent Universe, by Paul Kurtz.

“In a work that blends realism and optimism, philosopher Paul Kurtz lays out the basic principles of an ethical approach that he calls humanist eupraxsophy — that is, the application of practical moral choices inspired by scientific wisdom. Emphasizing the dramatic character of the biosphere, human affairs, and the physical universe itself, Kurtz has structured the book in terms of an operatic scenario, with an overture, intermezzo, nine acts, and a grand finale. Citing the emergence of a new planetary civilization, he proposes the development of a planetary ethics based on universal human rights, free scientific inquiry unfettered by dogma, an attitude of exuberance toward human potentials, and courage and determination in the face of the daunting challenges of our time.

Kurtz concludes on an enthusiastic note: there is meaning to be found in creative human endeavors as well as a sense of awe and profound reverence inspired by the spectacle of the enormous universe and the prospects for the human adventure.”

— Book Description

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Prayer and auto-hypnosis
  2. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  3. The Skeptic Summary
  4. Persecution, real and imagined: gays vs. Cameron
  5. Brian Dunning has pleaded guilty to wire fraud
  6. ‘Debate’ between me and Stan
  7. Civis Romanus sum
  8. Latest on the "Antikythera Mechanism"
  9. Bedini motor
  10. Richard Dawkins interviews Wendy Wright
  1. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  2. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  3. Evolving a Venom or Two
  4. Free the Glutens, or When a Cookie isn’t Just a Cookie
  5. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  6. Calorad
  7. Cold Reading
  8. Skeptic Summary #383
  9. The Legend of the Shrinking Sun
  10. Skeptic Summary #371
There were 7,297 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 2013, all rights reserved.

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