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Skeptic Summary #385

By The Staff
Posted on: 5/12/2013

Aliens, possums, children, bills, superstition, retirement, the Planetary Society and more!

Week ending May 12, 2013 (Vol 10, #7)

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

Forum Highlights:
Five stupid things about ancient aliens! - The first stupid thing is the History Channel.

Growling & breathing sounds at night - Ghost playing ‘possum or the other way around?

Second Child Death for Convicted Faith-Healing Cou - Time to end probation.

Skeptic Blogger facing bills..may be homeless soon - Was he born under a bad sign?

Superstition - Superstition is for bird-brains.

Editor’s Choice: Eugenie C. Scott is retiring from the NCSE - The end of an era.

Kil’s Evil Pick:
The Planetary Society — I’m not sure about what has taken me so long to get around to picking The Planetary Society, but they blipped onto my radar screen this week on Facebook. I read an alert circulating around the science and skeptical community that warns of a loss of funding to NASA’s planetary science projects, and an appeal to action by way of writing to our elected officials to save several programs, which I urge you to do. The alert is one of the functions of the Planetary Society. They are a non-government, non-profit educational outreach and political action organization that supports the planetary science of NASA and other space agencies. They also sponsor innovative research and lead several planetary space programs of their own. In short, they are way cool.

There is a lot to learn and do over there, but I’m going to leave it to you to explore The Planetary Society website. What I will include here is some tidbits and other things to pique your interest. For example, it might interest you to know that one of the founders of The Planetary Society and its first president was Carl Sagan, and the CEO of the society today is Bill Nye, who happened to have been a student of Sagan’s at Cornell University.

Here is what Nye has to say about The Planetary Society:
Who are we? We are YOU!

We are dads, moms, grandparents, teachers, kids, scientists, engineers, and space geeks. We are those who reach out into the Universe to seek answers to those deep questions: Where did we come from?, and Are we alone?

We are wowed and awed by the discovery of new things, the mysteries of science, the innovations of technology, the bravery of astronauts, and by the stunning images sent back to us from other worlds.

We know that space exploration is vital to humankind…and it is just plain fun!

-Bill Nye, CEO
The Planetary Society

Hey! Would you be interested in sending your name and a message to an astroid?
The Planetary Society and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) invite you to send your name and message to Asteroid 1999 JU3 and return to Earth on Hayabusa-2.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is scheduled to launch the asteroid explorer Hayabusa-2 in 2014. Hayabusa-2 will arrive at an asteroid in 2018 to investigate it for one and half years, before returning to Earth in 2020.
That appeals to the geek in me. After all, I did send my face into space on the Space Shuttle Endeavor’s last mission and I have the certificate to prove it!

Check out Featured Projects. That’s where you will find such things as the PlanetVac:
Why Create PlanetVac

Before we send humans to Mars, we need to bring Martian samples back to Earth for thorough scientific analysis. Bringing even a small sample back from Mars will be more beneficial than doing any type of in-situ analysis. In-situ investigations rely on instruments which, although highly capable within the mass and power constraints of spaceflight, cannot compare with a fully outfitted analytical laboratory on Earth. Other alternative, reliable sampling systems could also be important for sampling material for in situ instrument study, whether it be on Mars, the Moon, or on asteroids…

Anyhow, from news to learning areas, to kids stuff, and for videos, blogs and more, there is a lot to learn on The Planetary Society site. And there are several ways to get involved with what they are doing. They are, after all, a society for everyone with an interest in planetary science, and space in general. And if you have followed the links I have provided, you will see why getting involved is a good thing.

Our Mission is to …Create a better future by exploring other worlds and understanding our own.

Is it more probable that nature should go out of her course or that a man should tell a lie? We have never seen, in our time, nature go out of her course. But we have good reason to believe that millions of lies have been told in the same time. It is therefore at least millions to one that the reporter of a miracle tells a lie.
— Thomas Paine

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:
Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide hit 400 ppm for the first time in three million years

The Anti-Vaccine Movement: A Terrible Track Record

The Bankruptcy File Kevin Trudeau Doesn’t Want You to Know About

The Burger Lab: Revisiting the Myth of The 12-Year Old McDonald’s Burger That Just Won’t Rot (Testing Results!)

Can Handwriting Identify Better Employees?

Chemtrails: Conspiracy Theorist Vs Rational Person — Do We Have Anything To Worry About?

Doubtful News

The Gospel of Alex Jones

Homeopathic Vaccines: Canadian Scientists Do A Giant Face-Palm

How much do you know about science and religion?

How the CIA’s Fake Vaccination Campaign Endangers Us All

Louisiana counts the cost of teaching creationism — in reputation and dollars

Louisiana State Senate: We <3 Creationism

Measles Epidemic in Wales Has Roots in Antivax Movement

Measles outbreak in maps and graphics

Natural Does Not Mean Safe

Skepticality #206 — Superlaw!

Skepticality #207 — Science ASAP!


Time to call out the anti-GMO conspiracy theory

Uncovering Secret Messages

U.S. Lawmaker Proposes New Criteria for Choosing NSF Grants

What Psychic Sylvia Brown Didn’t See

Why is Our Government Attacking Science?

Why would aliens come all this way just to invade Earth?

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

Book of the Week:
Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, by Charles Mackay.

“First published in 1841, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds is often cited as the best book ever written about market psychology. This Harriman House edition includes Charles Mackay’s account of the three infamous financial manias — John Law’s Mississipi Scheme, the South Sea Bubble, and Tulipomania.

Between the three of them, these historic episodes confirm that greed and fear have always been the driving forces of financial markets, and, furthermore, that being sensible and clever is no defence against the mesmeric allure of a popular craze with the wind behind it.

In writing the history of the great financial manias, Charles Mackay proved himself a master chronicler of social as well as financial history. Blessed with a cast of characters that covered all the vices, gifted a passage of events which was inevitably heading for disaster, and with the benefit of hindsight, he produced a record that is at once a riveting thriller and absorbing historical document. A century and a half later, it is as vibrant and lurid as the day it was written.

For modern-day investors, still reeling from the dotcom crash, the moral of the popular manias scarcely needs spelling out. When the next stock market bubble comes along, as it surely will, you are advised to recall the plight of some of the unfortunates on these pages, and avoid getting dragged under the wheels of the careering bandwagon yourself.”

— Book Description

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. The Skeptic Summary
  2. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  3. Growling & breathing sounds at night
  4. Kidney stuff
  5. Astral projection
  6. ‘Debate’ between me and Stan
  7. Second Child Death for Convicted Faith-Healing Cou
  8. Stan Lee’s superhumans
  9. Chupacabra sold to creationist museum
  10. Kitsch ‘artist’ Thomas Kinkade dies at 54
  1. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  2. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony!
  3. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  4. Evolving a Venom or Two
  5. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  6. The Legend of the Shrinking Sun
  7. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  8. Cold Reading
  9. Free the Glutens, or When a Cookie isn’t Just a Cookie
  10. Evolution, Scientology Style
There were 7,009 daily visitors this week.
Last Month’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  2. Prayer and auto-hypnosis
  3. The Skeptic Summary
  4. ‘Debate’ between me and Stan
  5. Is God a Moral Monster? by Paul Copan
  6. Civis Romanus sum
  7. Latest on the "Antikythera Mechanism"
  8. Persecution, real and imagined: gays vs. Cameron
  9. No photo-no post!
  10. Stan Lee’s superhumans
  11. Poaching making China elephants evolve tuskless
  12. Bedini motor
  13. Brian Dunning has pleaded guilty to wire fraud
  14. Astral projection
  15. Kitsch ‘artist’ Thomas Kinkade dies at 54
  16. Scientist: No knuckle-walkers in human ancestry
  17. Scattershots: gargoyles & grotesques
  18. Richard Dawkins interviews Wendy Wright
  19. Fif50ty FreAkieSt AnIMaLS
  20. Newton, Connecticut
  1. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  2. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  3. Evolving a Venom or Two
  4. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  5. Skeptic Summary #18
  6. Free the Glutens, or When a Cookie isn’t Just a Cookie
  7. The Legend of the Shrinking Sun
  8. Skeptic Summary #371
  9. Cold Reading
  10. Skeptic Summary #383
  11. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  12. Calorad
  13. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony!
  14. Scientific Truth
  15. Skeptic Summary #110
  16. More on the Polonium 218 Controversy
  17. Miracle Thaw Tray
  18. The Biblical support for a Flat Earth and Geocentricism
  19. Questioning the Validity of False Memory Syndrome
  20. Natural Childbirth: Under the Skeptical Movement's Radar?
There were 32,704 daily visitors in April, 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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