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Skeptic Summary #390

By The Staff
Posted on: 9/3/2013

Assassination, Gullible's Island, character attacks, too awesome, Deep Rifts and more!

Week ending September 02, 2013 (Vol 10, #12)

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

Forum Highlights:
Assassination - Skeptic activist in India pays the ultimate price.

Religious family flees US on boat — gets lost - …and rescued by the evil government.

Christian lawyer attacks character of athiest lawyer - One of religion’s “Big Lies” repeated in a court room.

Editor’s Choice: Too Many, Too Soon! - And Mooner really is back!

Kil’s Evil Pick:
No pick today. Just some thoughts.

Did anyone sign up for this? I mean, as a member of a community, is there anyone particularly comfortable with the last month’s goings-on? I sure hope not. After coming off the high of TAM, it’s been a long and swift drop to feeling mostly despair for what remains of the goodwill that once prevailed among skeptics. Even as we disagreed over some finer points, and even some larger points, there was still a modicum of goodwill among us. It’s been some time since things were that cozy. And it just keeps getting worse. What was reported last month might have been necessary, but it has divided us even more while creating rifts in the rifts. I’m bummed.

And no. I don’t mean for the above paragraph to be a guessing game. I’m putting my feelings out there, and I’m going to do it without going into specifics. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, perhaps it would be better if you just move along. There are plenty of people who are writing about the disturbance in the Force. It’s all out there for everyone to see. One more opinion, one way or the other, isn’t going to matter. I have my thoughts on current the events, but that’s not what I’m writing about, exactly.

Here’s the thing: I’m beginning to understand some of the skeptics who have either left organized skepticism, or have never really been a part of it, even though they have contributed to it as free agents. Some of them are people I know. Some of them are famous Skeptics. Well… Famous in the small circles that we move in, because skepticism is not a hugely popular movement anyhow. I do think we are vital, and our numbers have increased by a lot since I got into it, but a lot in our case isn’t all that many. Not really.
“Sorry Carl. We blew it.”
Those were the words of one of my friends on Facebook. Do I think it’s come to that? No. But I surely do understand the sentiment. The rifts, I’m afraid, are becoming too deep to heal. People I admire or once admired are doing foolish things. Or worse! And everyone’s got a version of what is the right thing to do. I see people applying what they think is critical thinking to assess the current issues and coming to different conclusions, and running with them as though there can be no other possibilities. No other way of thinking. But applied evenly, and without bias, we should be coming to similar conclusions. Shouldn’t we? But that isn’t happening. Taking sides is what’s happening. To paraphrase our friend Filthy, “The bullshit machine is running at full fart.”

So where does that leave us? I don’t know. But where it leaves me is that I think I will remove myself from organized skepticism. (In a practical sense, removing myself from organized skepticism will have little effect on how I conduct myself. I don’t do talks or put myself out there much, and at best I’m a bit player and without much influence, so the move is pretty much symbolic.) I will do as some of my friends have done. I won’t avoid the issues, but I also refuse to get caught up on one side of warring factions and plant my flag there. Also, I have no wish to spend my time defending what I would never defend, just because of my closer relationship with people one side of the rift. I aim to listen, to evaluate, and most of all, to be my own person. I aim to go on promoting skepticism and critical thinking. I’ll speak up when I think my voice will be of some value, and I’ll offer my opinions on those things that are debatable even after critical thinking is applied. I will try to be couscous of my own biases, and hopefully catch them before they lead me to wrong conclusions.

And no. That does not mean that I’ll be leaving SFN. This is a place where we can differ and still work together. I like that about us.

If it can be destroyed by the truth, it deserves to be destroyed by the truth.
— 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:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
5 Signs Your Gluten Allergy Is Fake

Alternative Medicine Providers Show Their Greedy Side

Anti-superstition leader Narendra Dabholkar shot dead

Anti-Vaccine Megachurch Linked to Texas Measles Outbreak

Betty Hill, Not A Member Of The Carl Sagan Fan club

Doubtful News

Gary Bolton slapped with seven-year sentence for fake bomb detectors

The Greening And Un-Greening Of Genetically-Improved Food

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: Don’t Be Misled

Narendra Dabholkar: India’s Maharashtra state bans black magic after killing

India’s second freedom struggle

In Texas lawsuit, judge orders Scientology and its leader to stop harassment

“Just a Theory”: 7 Misused Science Words

Just Kale Me: How your Kale habit is slowly destroying your health and the world

Labels for GMO Foods Are a Bad Idea

Monique Rathbun Files Suit Against Scientology Over Harassment

Skepticality #213 — Abominable Science

Some Of My Work In Skeptical History

Some Questions for IDiots

The Trojan Horse called Integrative Medicine arrives at another medical school

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

Book of the Week:
Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, by Mary Roach.

“‘America’s funniest science writer’ (Washington Post) takes us down the hatch on an unforgettable tour. The alimentary canal is classic Mary Roach terrain: the questions explored in Gulp are as taboo, in their way, as the cadavers in Stiff and every bit as surreal as the universe of zero gravity explored in Packing for Mars. Why is crunchy food so appealing? Why is it so hard to find words for flavors and smells? Why doesn’t the stomach digest itself? How much can you eat before your stomach bursts? Can constipation kill you? Did it kill Elvis? In Gulp we meet scientists who tackle the questions no one else thinks of — or has the courage to ask. We go on location to a pet-food taste-test lab, a fecal transplant, and into a live stomach to observe the fate of a meal. With Roach at our side, we travel the world, meeting murderers and mad scientists, Eskimos and exorcists (who have occasionally administered holy water rectally), rabbis and terrorists — who, it turns out, for practical reasons do not conceal bombs in their digestive tracts. Like all of Roach’s books, Gulp is as much about human beings as it is about human bodies.”

— Book Description

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  2. Stan Lee’s superhumans
  3. Unbelievable
  4. Evidence for evolution "spotty"?
  5. ‘Debate’ between me and Stan
  6. Green Vax
  7. Cold Reading
  8. New fruit in old boxes
  9. Movies for freethinkers
  10. The Illuminati are actually a force for good
  1. Evolving a Venom or Two
  2. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  3. Cold Reading
  4. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  5. Henry Morris on Trial: Introduction
  6. Skeptic Summary #389
  7. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  8. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  9. Evolution is a Lie, and you Skeptics KNOW it! Part 2
  10. Free the Glutens, or When a Cookie isn’t Just a Cookie
There were 12,016 daily visitors this week.
Last Month’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  2. Unbelievable
  3. Stan Lee’s superhumans
  4. Scandal in the skeptic community
  5. Evidence for evolution "spotty"?
  6. ‘Debate’ between me and Stan
  7. Cold Reading
  8. The Skeptic Summary
  9. Scattershots: gargoyles & grotesques
  10. Someone loves me!!!
  11. Talk about anything
  12. The Skeptic Summary
  13. Brand New Creation/Evolution Debate Forum
  14. Fif50ty FreAkieSt AnIMaLS
  15. Skeptic News
  16. Scientist: No knuckle-walkers in human ancestry
  17. The Illuminati are actually a force for good
  18. New fruit in old boxes
  19. Scattershots: Cleaning out the pipes
  20. Sea Bands
  1. Evolving a Venom or Two
  2. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  3. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  4. Cold Reading
  5. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  6. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  7. Skeptic Summary #389
  8. The Legend of the Shrinking Sun
  9. Skeptic Summary #371
  10. Free the Glutens, or When a Cookie isn’t Just a Cookie
  11. Skeptic Summary #197
  12. Skeptic Summary #388
  13. Evolution is a Lie, and you Skeptics KNOW it! Part 2
  14. A Cherry Picker’s Guide to Choosing Evidence for Traumatic Repression or False Memory Syndrome
  15. Henry Morris on Trial: Introduction
  16. TAM5
  17. The Laundry Solution
  18. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony!
  19. Evidence Cited as Hard Proof of the Existence of Satanic Cults
  20. The Biblical support for a Flat Earth and Geocentricism
There were 34,604 daily visitors in August, 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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