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Skeptic Summary #387

By The Staff
Posted on: 7/7/2013

Racism, questions, TableTop, victories, spinning, genetic literacy and more!

Week ending July 07, 2013 (Vol 10, #9)

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

Forum Highlights:
God-given racism - A question about Bible-supported racism evolved into all sorts of other questions.

Questions for a Christian - About the nature of God, morality, the Bible and more.

TableTop - A YouTube show focused on table-top games.

Victories for equality - Socially important rulings from the Supreme Court of the USA.

Editor’s Choice: Egyptian statuette spins untouched - Wheeee!

Kil’s Evil Pick:
Genetic Literacy Project — As my pick in our last Summary, I called upon the skeptical community to take on the issue of Genetically Modified Organisms or GMOs. It’s my feeling that too much misinformation, driven by ideology rather than science, is distorting the way much of the public views GMOs, and the time has come to push back as we have on the anti-vaccination movement and climate change denial. As always, we should seek to counter ideological, religious or politically motivated pseudoscience or scientific denial in favor of whatever is the legitimate consensus of scientists, no matter what our personal beliefs are on religion or politics. The foundation for most modern skeptical positions rests on empirical evidence. We either doubt or tentatively accept matters of science, based on the evidence for or against any proposition.

Of course, it helps to know the reason why we take a position is on issues that we concern ourselves with. And the key to that is to know how to differentiate the good evidence from the bad. We can’t be experts in everything, and many of us cannot really claim an expert knowledge in anything of concern to skeptics, beyond knowing where the good evidence resides, and how to apply it as skeptics and critical thinkers. And knowing what the scientific consensus is on a matter of science, and supporting it against claims that come from dubious sources is one of those ways. And that’s exactly when a site like the Genetic Literacy Project comes into play. If we are going to counter bogus claims and misinformation, we need a source for good information.

In the area of genetics, including genetic engineering, stem cell research, evolution, epigenetics, personalized medicine and so on, the Genetic Literacy Project is a great source for learning about and guiding us to sites and articles of value. It’s resource central in the battle against misinformation with regard to all things genetic. It’s a site that I relied on heavily in my plea for more skeptical activism against GMO misinformation.

Here is the site mission statement:
The Genetic Literacy Project

Agricultural and human genetics are reshaping farming, food and medicine. The GLP explores the intersection of DNA research, media and policy to disentangle science from ideology.

Genetics is our future. It can be a source of dramatic innovations to improve food security, the environment and public health. In theory, biotechnology and related cutting edge sciences are widely celebrated. But in practice, the words “gene” and “genetic engineering” often stir fear and misunderstanding. Intricate science scares people who don’t understand risk and complexity. What is the potential of agricultural and human genetics? The goal of the GLP is to serve as a resource to those interested in disentangling ideology from science.

The GLP is non-partisan non-profit organization funded by donations from various philanthropies. It is affiliated with the non-profit Statistical Assessment Service (STATS) based at George Mason University in Virginia.

In much the same way RealClimate takes on climate change denial, and counters the misinformation about climate change spread by politicians, some religions and the media, the Genetic Literacy Project takes on misinformation about GMOs and other challenges to the scientific consensus in the area of genetic research. So along with my plea for skeptics to step it up on answering those who are sure GMOs pose a threat to our existence, I also offer the The Genetic Literacy Project as a go to resource for the science-based lowdown on GMOs and other issues dealing with genetics.

…[T]here is no shame in not knowing. The problem arises when irrational thought and attendant behavior fill the vacuum left by ignorance.
— Neil deGrasse Tyson

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:
50 Years of Progress

Bad science in the paper “Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize”

“Bigfoot” Samples Yield Opossum DNA

Court upholds parents’ convictions in prayer death

Don’t Take Your Vitamins

Doubtful News

Genetic Engineering and Glowing Kitties of DOOM!

The Glucosamine House of Cards Starts To Shake

How science deniers use false equivalency to pretend there’s a debate

Irrefutable Evidence Shows That Anti-Vaccine Activists Still Have No Clue

Is the End Coming for Ken Ham?

Israeli Magician and Psychic Was CIA Spy, Says New Documentary

Kevin Trudeau: Chasing the Dream Seller

Louisiana’s Latest Anti-Scientific Folly, on Video

No, dolphins are not your ‘therapists.’ So just stop it.

Prominent scientists sign declaration that animals have conscious awareness, just like us

A short list of points concerning genetic modification

Skepticality #209 — Watching Bad Science

Skepticality #210 — Talkin’ Death and Injury

Skepticality #211 — The Limits of Neuroscience

Skeptics Presents: B.Y.T.H. Busters (The Secret Law of Attraction)

So Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Called Us to Complain…

Texas Christian University Grants Official Recognition to a Campus Atheist Group

UK closed UFO desk after 50yrs and no ‘potential threat’

What Keeps Conspiracy Theories Alive?

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

Book of the Week:
Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine, by Paul A. Offit.

“In Do You Believe in Magic?, medical expert Paul A. Offit, M.D., offers a scathing exposé of the alternative medicine industry, revealing how even though some popular therapies are remarkably helpful due to the placebo response, many of them are ineffective, expensive, and even deadly.

Dr. Offit reveals how alternative medicine — an unregulated industry under no legal obligation to prove its claims or admit its risks — can actually be harmful to our health.

Using dramatic real-life stories, Offit separates the sense from the nonsense, showing why any therapy — alternative or traditional — should be scrutinized. He also shows how some nontraditional methods can do a great deal of good, in some cases exceeding therapies offered by conventional practitioners.

An outspoken advocate for science-based health advocacy who is not afraid to take on media celebrities who promote alternative practices, Dr. Offit advises, ‘There’s no such thing as alternative medicine. There’s only medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t.’”

— Book Description

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  2. God-given racism
  3. Victories for equality
  4. Scientist: No knuckle-walkers in human ancestry
  5. The Skeptic Summary
  6. Astral projection
  7. ‘Debate’ between me and Stan
  8. Cold Reading
  9. The water cooler, part 3
  10. Random fun
  1. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  2. Cold Reading
  3. Calorad
  4. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  5. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  6. Evolving a Venom or Two
  7. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  8. Free the Glutens, or When a Cookie isn’t Just a Cookie
  9. Skeptic Summary #197
  10. Skeptic Summary #386
There were 7,613 daily visitors this week.
Last Month’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  2. The Skeptic Summary
  3. God-given racism
  4. Diesel engine converted to Ethanol
  5. ‘Debate’ between me and Stan
  6. Questions for a Christian
  7. Shut up and listen
  8. Astral projection
  9. Scientist: No knuckle-walkers in human ancestry
  10. Bedini motor
  11. Kitsch ‘artist’ Thomas Kinkade dies at 54
  12. The Illuminati are actually a force for good
  13. Cosmology/smology
  14. Stan Lee’s superhumans
  15. A literal jewish conspiracy
  16. The water cooler, part 3
  17. Mount St. Helens spewed more CO2
  18. The Skeptic Summary
  19. Cold Reading
  20. Fif50ty FreAkieSt AnIMaLS
  1. Cold Reading
  2. Evolving a Venom or Two
  3. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  4. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  5. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  6. Skeptic Summary #386
  7. Calorad
  8. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  9. The Myth of the Missing Moon Dust
  10. The Legend of the Shrinking Sun
  11. Free the Glutens, or When a Cookie isn’t Just a Cookie
  12. Skeptic Summary #371
  13. N. 25, June 2002: Ecology vs. ecophily — being reasonable about saving the environment
  14. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony!
  15. Skeptic Summary #197
  16. The Biblical support for a Flat Earth and Geocentricism
  17. Miracle Thaw Tray
  18. Skeptic Summary #381
  19. Evolution is a Lie, and you Skeptics KNOW it!
  20. Skeptic Summary #358
There were 38,508 daily visitors in June, 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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