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Skeptic Summary

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Skeptic Summary #196

By The Staff
Posted on: 7/6/2008

Collision insurance, collapsing stories, questionable authorship, price panic, dying to meet God and more!

Week ending July 05, 2008 (Vol 5, #24)

Welcome to the Skeptic Summary, a quick week-in-review guide to the Skeptic Friends Network and the rest of the skeptical world.

Forum Highlights:
Congress wants to check up on Apophis - Finally, some action.

Yeah, sure, pull the other leg - It was obviously the Ruskies.

Editor’s Choice: The Bard of Avon - No, he wasn’t. Yes, he was.

This Week’s Poll:
Happy dependence day - Is anyone growing their own fuel?

Kil’s Evil Pick:
From Skeptic Reports, “Death Cults,” by Willy Wegner, translated by Claus Larsen. From the introduction:
There have been other doomsday cults, some more known than others, where it didn’t get as far as collective suicide or killing the members in one form of self-fulfilling prophecy or another. My goal with these articles is not to analyze why people seek these cults, better-qualified people can do that. My approach to the death cults is the layman’s curiosity, to simply find out what happened. These articles are therefore primarily a description of the chain of events, a puzzle, so to speak, collated from press material, magazine articles, books, official documents and correspondence. The articles can also be a starting point for those readers who want to understand or go further than myself, in the attempt of gaining insight in the bizarre ways the will to believe and to be believed can have.
Discussed in the articles are four lethal cults including the The Heavens Gate cult. Highly recommended reading.

We are not princes of the earth, we are the descendants of worms, and any nobility must be earned.
— PZ Myers

Chat Highlights:
Sunday: Engine Control Units on modern cars; Westborough Baptist Church; napkins all over the world with Kilbonics written on them. Google Language Tools for translating foreign websites. Coca-Cola flavours; Dragon*Con or TAM?

Wednesday: A novel idea was proposed at the start of chat: design, build, and run an FSM-style restaurant. If you wish to invest, contact chefcrsh at Skepticality. Chat started out with ways to make money in order to invest in the idea. Restaurant puns were involved. Dave shared an awesome Marcel Marceau video that I am still laughing over, and then the epic failure of Yoo who didn’t think to say “no” when asked if the president can bury someone alive. The success of Expelled, broken teeth and poor dental insurance, and Sylvia Browne were also discussed before the night was through.

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
My morning at Mensa

Plagues of wasps, squirrels, rats? Let’s see the data

What critics of critics of neo-creationists get wrong: a reply to Gordy Slack

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

Book of the Week:
Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries, by Neil deGrasse Tyson.

“What would it feel like if your spaceship were to venture too close to the black hole lurking at the center of the Milky Way? According to astrophysicist Tyson, director of New York City’s Hayden Planetarium, size does matter when it comes to black holes, although the chances of your surviving the encounter aren’t good in any case. Tyson takes readers on an exciting journey from Earth’s hot springs, where extremophiles flourish in hellish conditions, to the frozen, desolate stretches of the Oort Cloud and the universe’s farthest reaches, in both space and time. Tyson doesn’t restrict his musings to astrophysics, but wanders into related fields like relativity and particle physics, which he explains just as clearly as he does Lagrangian points, where we someday may park interplanetary filling stations. He tackles popular myths (is the sun yellow?) and takes movie directors — most notably James Cameron — to task for spectacular goofs. In the last section the author gives his take on the hot subject of intelligent design. Readers of Natural History magazine will be familiar with many of the 42 essays collected here, while newcomers will profit from Tyson’s witty and entertaining description of being pulled apart atom by atom into a black hole, and other, closer-to-earth, and cheerier, topics.”

— Publishers Weekly

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. PZ expelled from Expelled — Dawkins slips in! (3,430 views)
  2. SCOTUS handgun decision (553 views)
  3. Crop circles again...... (341 views)
  4. creation/evolution (296 views)
  5. Debate, first round (277 views)
  6. Possum on the half shell (267 views)
  7. LiLo (Behe) is back! (267 views)
  8. Stop laughing, dammit! This is serious shit! (237 views)
  9. Darwin’s debt to Christianity (235 views)
  10. BlackLight Power Inc.: too good to be true? (232 views)
  1. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark (1,556 views)
  2. Evolving a Venom or Two (1,164 views)
  3. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle (116 views)
  4. Skeptic Summary #152 (114 views)
  5. Cold Reading (48 views)
  6. The Bible’s Bad Fruits (46 views)
  7. Miracle Thaw Tray (39 views)
  8. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down? (33 views)
  9. Skeptic Summary #195 (28 views)
  10. Calorad (27 views)
There were 21,505 daily visitors this week.
Last Month’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. PZ expelled from Expelled — Dawkins slips in! (12,814 views)
  2. Darwin’s debt to Christianity (2,944 views)
  3. 9/11 was an inside job! (1,941 views)
  4. If I get a haircut (1,794 views)
  5. Stop laughing, dammit! This is serious shit! (1,791 views)
  6. Possum on the half shell (1,775 views)
  7. If I get a haircut (Part 2) (1,746 views)
  8. LiLo (Behe) is back! (1,684 views)
  9. The water cooler (Part 2) (1,072 views)
  10. What is photorealism? (828 views)
  11. New features? (710 views)
  12. Beelzebufo ampinga (659 views)
  13. SCOTUS handgun decision (628 views)
  14. Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed! (Part 2) (616 views)
  15. TAM6: here I go again… (600 views)
  16. Al tells it like it is (579 views)
  17. Crop circles again...... (559 views)
  18. Predetermination or free will? (523 views)
  19. What are your favorite words? (518 views)
  20. Celebrating patriots and exposing traitors (482 views)
  1. Evolving a Venom or Two (7,468 views)
  2. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark (4,094 views)
  3. Skeptic Summary #152 (521 views)
  4. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle (487 views)
  5. Miracle Thaw Tray (251 views)
  6. The Bible’s Bad Fruits (187 views)
  7. Cold Reading (180 views)
  8. N. 54, October 2004: Abortion, a Philosophical Approach (151 views)
  9. Evolution is a Lie (147 views)
  10. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony! (146 views)
  11. The Bible Answer Man (146 views)
  12. Evidence Cited as Hard Proof of the Existence of Satanic Cults (125 views)
  13. Questioning the Validity of False Memory Syndrome (123 views)
  14. Time Warner Cable: Trick or Treat? (115 views)
  15. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down? (107 views)
  16. Preaching that Anti-Evolution Propaganda (101 views)
  17. Evolution is a Lie, and you Skeptics KNOW it! Part 4 (98 views)
  18. Evil Skeptic and a Visit to Awareness 2000 (95 views)
  19. More on the Polonium 218 Controversy (91 views)
  20. TAM4 (87 views)
There were 54,912 daily visitors in June, 2008.

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 2008, all rights reserved.

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