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Skeptic Summary #288

By The Staff
Posted on: 6/6/2010

Blockade, handy fish, sinkholes, more apologies, bad inventions and more!

Week ending June 05, 2010 (Vol 7, #23)

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:
Israeli blockade incident - One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist.

Rare fish with hands - Where they get fish fingers.

Sinkhole from (or is it, to?) Hell - The smoking gun “hollow earthers” have been looking for.

Editor’s Choice: Posting problems - Still sorry, folks.

Kil’s Evil Pick:
The 50 Worst InventionsTime has compiled a list of the 50 worst inventions of all time. Of course, these probably aren’t the 50 worst inventions of all time because at least these dogs saw the light of day, even if it was only for a few moments. Some of them, like hydrogenated oils and Farmville are still, unfortunately, very much with us. Others like New Coke have gone the way of the Ford Pinto. Gone but not yet forgotten.

I’m sure that you will be able to come up with of a few things that you think should have been on this list, but hey, that’s half the fun…

I don’t believe in astrology; I’m a Sagittarius and we’re skeptical.
— Arthur C. Clake

Chat Highlights:
Wednesday: Chat this week went well into the night; I (Ricky) actually fell asleep at my desk halfway through. We started with a little tech talk: Machi4velli had to do some database programming with MySQL. Upset over this boring drudge, other chatters moved on to nurse jokes and stories, then breeding Dalmatians and working for big pharma: one of our chatters did a stint at Pfizer and Bristol Myers Squibb. Along with stealing drugs, ethics of drug companies and other various topics, somehow Ray Comfort came up. This led to other crackpots, such as a guy who claims Bigfoot is the result of original sin. If you make a statement about a nonexistent creature, I guess technically you are correct. With bad arguments in mind, talk moved onto a blog post on Good Math, Bad Math regarding the standard Creationist claim that evolution violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics. An interesting counter-argument is that it is not known whether evolution is a net decrease (with the system being Earth alone) in entropy as Creationists claim. The topic became more general when it was remarked how offended crackpots become when you try to help them improve their arguments. Examples included AIG’s Arguments Creationists Shouldn’t Use and our old friend Mozina. To round off the night, chat ended with wacky religious claims.

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
Abraham’s children in the genome era

Australian Aboriginal Rock Art May Depict Giant Bird Extinct for 40,000 Years

BP Oil Official Public Apology (SPOOF)

Calibrating the Molecular Clock

Cat saves live, thwarts dog attack

Can four geeks working out of their garage replace Facebook with an OpenSource project?

Criminalizing the Science You Don’t Cotton To

Did humans evolve to fill a “cognitive niche?”

The Discovery Institute is desperately patching Meyer’s mind-numbing magnum opus

Gay? Whatever, Dude

Giant airplane-mounted telescope sees first light!

God, Science and Philanthropy

Great Pacific Gyre Continues to Annoy Me

How Whales Have Changed Over 35 Million Years

Look! Up in the Sky! It’s an Earthquake!

Megafauna cave painting could be 40,000 years old

Omega-3 lesson: Not so much brain boost as fishy research

Pray for the First Amendment

Promoting Dangerous Pseudoscience — Not Really A Fairy Tale About Meryl Dorey And The AVN

The rot beneath the sunny facade

A somewhat baffling result: atheists are like aspies, but not?

Stereotyping women right out of science

Straight Talk about Straight Camp

Templeton gets an invigorating massage, with a little deep pressure and an occasional gentle thump

That’s not the afterlife — it’s a brainstorm

What’s New by Bob Park

When science clashes with beliefs? Make science impotent

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

Book of the Week:
When Good Thinking Goes Bad: How Your Brain Can Have a Mind of Its Own, by Todd C. Riniolo.

“In 1975, the Environmental Fund sponsored a full-page advertisement in leading newspapers, which predicted that ‘the world as we know it will likely be ruined before the year 2,000,’ due to the assumed inability of world food production to keep pace with the increase in population. The statement was endorsed by some of the finest thinkers of the time — scientists, scholars, and other professionals who had spent their careers applying the principles of critical thinking to their chosen disciplines. Nonetheless, in this instance, they all failed to use the same rigor in assessing the probability of looming disaster and badly miscalculated.

This is just one example of how even the best thinkers can sometimes go astray, and it illustrates how easily unconscious biases can undermine the critical thinking process. In this insightful analysis of the mental pitfalls that trip up even elite critical thinkers, psychologist Todd C. Riniolo makes a compelling case that under certain circumstances everyone is vulnerable to accepting erroneous beliefs. Riniolo begins by reviewing the hallmarks of critical thinking related to the evaluation of claims, such as the use of the double-blind procedure and the law of parsimony. He then provides an evolutionary framework and empirical supporting evidence from cognitive psychology to explain why being inconsistent in the use of critical thinking is part of our evolutionary heritage. Each of us possesses cognitive biases that make us prone to maintaining our current beliefs (both true and false). He concludes by focusing on a wide range of claims — environmental, political, economic, multicultural — to illustrate how in certain contexts we all are tempted to abandon critical thinking. Thoroughly researched yet written in a lively, witty style, this unique approach to critical thinking will interest students, teachers, and anyone who wishes to become a better thinker.”

— Product Description

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. PZ expelled from Expelled — Dawkins slips in!
  2. The Supper
  3. Funny FAILS
  4. DMV Senior Motorcyclist Handbook
  5. ‘Zion Oil’ getting into hot water?
  6. Gulf oil spill
  7. House Republicans attempt ‘GOP Kill’ option
  8. Scattershots: gargoyles & grotesques
  9. Israeli blockade incident
  10. Scattershots: Hammer Orchid
  1. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  2. Evolving a Venom or Two
  3. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  4. Scientific Truth
  5. Henry Morris on Trial: Conclusion
  6. TAM5
  7. Skeptic Summary #287
  8. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  9. Miracle Thaw Tray
  10. More on the Polonium 218 Controversy
There were 11,677 daily visitors this week.
Last Month’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. The Supper
  2. PZ expelled from Expelled — Dawkins slips in!
  3. Funny FAILS
  4. The shallow end of the gene pool…
  5. DMV Senior Motorcyclist Handbook
  6. Scattershots: gargoyles & grotesques
  7. A literal jewish conspiracy
  8. Documentary: 1983 ‘Moonwalk’ was staged
  9. Quote Mine warning propaganda poster
  10. Moon-walker claims alien contact cover-up
  11. Teabaggers take over Maine Repugs
  12. How cool is this?!
  13. Scattershots: Hammer Orchid
  14. What is the physical evidence for the Holocaust?
  15. Jesus tempts Satan
  16. Who is Obama?
  17. ‘Zion Oil’ getting into hot water?
  18. What is photorealism?
  19. Praying at meal time
  20. Beelzebufo ampinga
  1. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  2. Evolving a Venom or Two
  3. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  4. TAM5
  5. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  6. Scientific Truth
  7. Miracle Thaw Tray
  8. Preaching that Anti-Evolution Propaganda
  9. Cold Reading
  10. Skeptic Summary #18
  11. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony!
  12. Come & Receive your Miracle: A Sunday Afternoon at a Robert Tilton Crusade
  13. The Polonium 218 Controversy
  14. More on the Polonium 218 Controversy
  15. Quantum Age Water
  16. Evolution is a Lie
  17. Skeptic Summary #283
  18. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  19. 2nd Law of Thermodynamics Argument Weak on Both Sides
  20. Skeptic Summary #284
There were 51,706 daily visitors in May, 2010.

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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