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Skeptic Summary #388

By The Staff
Posted on: 7/21/2013

Dirty tricks, deep ends, jury verdicts, TAM reports, public domains and more!

Week ending July 21, 2013 (Vol 10, #10)

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

Forum Highlights:
Dirty tricks by climate change deniers? - Same tricks, new topic.

Has the GOP gone off the deep end? - In short? Yes, many years ago.

Unarmed Trayvon Martin gunned down - Verdict is in, which will surely be challenged.

Editor’s Choice: My TAM thread - SFN-ambassador Kil reports from TAM 2013

Kil’s Evil Pick:
The Public Domain Review — Sometimes I get lucky. I’m still not finished filling in my description and random thoughts about my recent visit to TAM, in the thread that I started for doing that, because I’ve been busy. The thread is in need of completion. And with that in mind, I really wasn’t giving much thought to this week’s Pick. And then this link appeared in my newsfeed on Facebook:
The History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpents (1658)

A selection of woodcuts from a book entitled The History of Four-Footed Beasts and Serpents, published in 1658. Most of this three-volume compilation is comprised of the zoological works of the English clergyman Edward Topsell who published several books on religion and other matters during his lifetime. A whole host of animals are represented in Topsell’s illustrations, all of which which came directly from earlier works by the Swiss physician, naturalist, and author Konrad Gesner. Amongst the usual suspects there are also more unusual mythical specimens, such as the “Hydra,” with two claws, a curled serpent’s tail, and seven small mammalian heads; the “Lamia,” with a cat-like body, hooves on the hind feet, claws on the front, and a human woman’s face and hair; and the “Mantichora,” with a lion’s body and mane, a man’s face and head of hair, and a grotesquely smiling mouth.


Pretty cool, eh? So naturally I had to dig deeper into the site. I clicked on the page banner and off I went, exploring. Within a few minutes time, I knew I had been lead to a site that I wanted to share with both of my readers.

The Public Domain Review is a collection of audios, films, articles, photos and other goodies that have made their way into the public domain, as the name of the site implies. And boy-howdy, there is lots of it, and as you might imagine, there’s something here for everyone. I spent several hours (when I should have been finishing my TAM thread) watching film clips and listening to audios. I also perused images for a while. And I know I haven’t even scratched the surface of those things that are of interest to me, in the collections.

Sir Arthur and the Fairies

In the spring of 1920, at the beginning of a growing fascination with spiritualism brought on by the death of his son and brother in WWI, Arthur Conan Doyle took up the case of the Cottingley Fairies. Mary Losure explores how the creator of Sherlock Holmes became convinced that the ‘fairy photographs’ taken by two girls from Yorkshire were real.
About the site:
The Public Domain Review is a not-for-profit project dedicated to showcasing the most interesting and unusual out-of-copyright works available online.

All works eventually fall out of copyright — from classic works of art, music and literature, to abandoned drafts, tentative plans, and overlooked fragments. In doing so they enter the public domain, a vast commons of material that everyone is free to enjoy, share and build upon without restriction.

We believe the public domain is an invaluable and indispensable good, which — like our natural environment and our physical heritage — deserves to be explicitly recognized, protected and appreciated.

The Public Domain Review aims to help its readers to explore this rich terrain — like a small exhibition gallery at the entrance of an immense network of archives and storage rooms that lie beyond.

So there you have it. Or do you? You really have to go to The Public Domain Review and explore what the site has to offer. And there is a very big upside to what you might find there as well. You can share the images, movies and most everything else in the collection without having to worry about copyright violations. And that is not at all beside the point!

Oh… Thanks go out to Rachel Ann Gray for posting the link to this fabulous site!

The business of skepticism is to be dangerous. Skepticism challenges established institutions. If we teach everybody, including, say, high school students, habits of skeptical thought, they will probably not restrict their skepticism to UFOs, aspirin commercials, and 35,000-year-old channelees. Maybe they’ll start asking awkward questions about economic, or social, or political, or religious institutions. Perhaps they’ll challenge the opinions of those in power. Then where would we be?
— Carl Sagan

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:
Johnny Monoxide

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
23-yr-old engineer ends life. Reason: A crow sat on his head

3 Reasons Why I Refuse to Watch Jenny McCarthy on ‘The View’

Alan Turing Must Be Pardoned Demands House Of Lords

Alluring but risky medicine

Another Celebrity Scientologist Leaves the Church

Deadly woo purveyor out of prison

Doubtful News

Epic ‘Psychic’ Failure on TV

A former New Yorker fact-checker explains why she’s a creationist

IDiot Irony

I’m Keene for Ghosts

They’re watching as guru in sweat lodge case goes free

The Trailer for the Rebooted Cosmos TV Series Is Out

The View Hires Notorious Anti-Vaxxer Jenny McCarthy

The View Just Got A Little More Indigo Child

What Percentage of Prisoners are Atheists? It’s a Lot Smaller Than We Ever Imagined

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

Book of the Week:
Abominable Science!: Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids, by Daniel Loxton and Donald R. Prothero.

“Throughout our history, humans have been captivated by mythic beasts and legendary creatures. Tales of Bigfoot, the Yeti, and the Loch Ness monster are part of our collective experience. Now comes a book from two dedicated investigators that explores and elucidates the fascinating world of cryptozoology.

Daniel Loxton and Donald R. Prothero have written an entertaining, educational, and definitive text on cryptids, presenting the arguments both for and against their existence and systematically challenging the pseudoscience that perpetuates their myths. After examining the nature of science and pseudoscience and their relation to cryptozoology, Loxton and Prothero take on Bigfoot; the Yeti, or Abominable Snowman, and its cross-cultural incarnations; the Loch Ness monster and its highly publicized sightings; the evolution of the Great Sea Serpent; and Mokele Mbembe, or the Congo dinosaur. They conclude with an analysis of the psychology behind the persistent belief in paranormal phenomena, identifying the major players in cryptozoology, discussing the character of its subculture, and considering the challenge it poses to clear and critical thinking in our increasingly complex world.”

— Book Description

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. ‘Debate’ between me and Stan
  2. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  3. Questions for a Christian
  4. Unarmed Trayvon Martin gunned down
  5. Has the GOP gone off the deep end?
  6. Stan Lee’s superhumans
  7. My TAM thread
  8. Cold Reading
  9. The Skeptic Summary
  10. God-given racism
  1. Cold Reading
  2. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  3. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  4. I Am the Very Model of a Skeptic Evangelical
  5. Evolving a Venom or Two
  6. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  7. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  8. The Legend of the Shrinking Sun
  9. Skeptic Summary #365
  10. Free the Glutens, or When a Cookie isn’t Just a Cookie
There were 7,952 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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