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Skeptic Summary #327

By The Staff
Posted on: 4/25/2011

A new book, an IDiot, creation worship, dumb inventions and more!

Week ending April 23, 2011 (Vol 8, #15)

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:
Coren’s new book - A new display of classical logical fallacies.

IDiot exposes once again, ID’s religious nature - There’s an explanation for Everything!

Worship vs. Creation - Where’s the logical connection?

Kil’s Evil Pick:
30 Dumb Inventions — From, which I’m also picking by way of my Pick, because it just might be the largest photo journalistic archive on the web (updated every day and well worth exploring).

Anyhow, out of all of the history and news, presented in large part through the lens of stunningly fabulous photography that made LIFE a mainstay in our homes for much longer than I have been alive, I chose to highlight a bunch of dumb inventions because that’s how I roll. With almost 100 years of bad inventions to choose from, the “dumb” is deep over at LIFE. The earliest one, the Yodel Meter, dates back to 1925. There is a nice picture of L. Ron Hubbard testing his invention, the Hubbard Electrometer, which he used to see if tomatoes feel pain. (The meter itself looks something like an E-Meter that is used by those who subscribe to another bad invention of Hubbard’s, The Church of Scientology.) Hubbard claimed that his device proved that tomatoes “scream when they are sliced.”

As disappointed as the inventors were when their inventions were soundly rejected, if you’re anything like me, the opposite is true when it comes to admiring such ill-conceived creations. They have a charm of their own. It is failure on a scale that stands the test of time.

There are some real doozies in the LIFE collection of 30 Dumb Inventions. And I don’t want to give it all away. So I guess you will just have to click the links and take a look.

L. Ron Hubbard testing his tomato’s feelings

As for, here is what they say about their site:
Welcome to, the largest, most amazing collection of professional photography on the Web.

LIFE and Getty Images, the two most recognized names in photography, have joined forces to provide you instant access to millions of breathtaking photographs — for free. not only lets you wander through the legendary LIFE and Getty archives, but with more than 3,000 new photos added every day, it also gives you the best pictures of the people and places shaping our world now.

These are the photos you won’t forget. Taken by the world’s top photographers and curated by
LIFE editors, they tell the story of our times — our heroes, our stars, our celebrations and heartbreak, the events etched in our memory and the small moments that make life sweet. When you find a photo you like, you’ll be able to share it, print it, and sometimes even buy it.

We’ll update the site throughout the day, but to make sure you never miss a great shot, sign up for our weekly “Picks of the Week” E-newsletter. And if you have suggestions or comments about our site, please share them with us — will be constantly improving and adding new features to give you the best experience possible.
And really, no kidding. I’ll be going back there for future Evil Picks. You can count on it.

Our weapons are the ironic mind against the literal: the open mind against the credulous; the courageous pursuit of truth against the fearful and abject forces who would set limits to investigation (and who stupidly claim that we already have all the truth we need).
— Christopher Hitchens

Chat Highlights:
Wednesday the 13th: We started out discussing musicals and movies based on them and the other way around. Unusually many ladies online in the chat this time. Getting the shakes in a cab is better than outside, says Liz. Earthquakes seems to be more common than we thought… There was more geology discussed (the Andes, Himalayas, and the Alps) before we went on to natural disasters. Question is: is it easier to dodge polar bears in Edmonton or Tea Baggers in Arizona if Yellowstone Caldera blows? Because Natural disasters were too depressing to think about, the discussion turned to American politics instead. Which seems like a natural disaster, and equally depressing. Finally, some TAM-talk. Who’ll be there, who won’t.

Wednesday the 20th: The chat started out with Dr. Mabuse lamenting over a conflict at work. Then we had some speculations on the age of members and why we don’t see them in the chat. It’s not like we barbecue them if they show up. Skeptics don’t believe in evolution, but other “…people believe weird things.” That’s a good book by Michael Shermer by the way. Then the discussion turned to brains perceiving patterns and optical illusions, and other tricks of the mind. The colour-changing card trick for instance. Neil DeGrasse Tyseon and Richard Dawkins are coming to TAM9. Skeptics who believe in God are good at compartmentalising.

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
Backwards step on looking into the future

Evolutionary studies emerge on UA campus

FBI’s UFO File: Proof of Roswell?

The Guise Of Critical Thinking: How Anti-Evolution Bills Mar Science Education

How Did Dinosaurs Have Sex? Dino-style.

I foresee that nobody will do anything about this problem

JREF Appoints Dr. Steven Novella as Senior Fellow

Marine Organisms With Eternal Life Can Solve the Riddle of Aging

New engine sends shock waves through auto industry

NHS leaflet mixes past and present

Pope Benedict stumped by Japanese girl’s question about suffering

Russian Dead Alien Video Surfaces

This Week in Intelligent Design

What’s New by Bob Park

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

Book of the Week:
Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid, by Wendy Williams.

“Kraken is the traditional name for gigantic sea monsters, and this book introduces one of the most charismatic, enigmatic, and curious inhabitants of the sea: the squid. The pages take the reader on a wild narrative ride through the world of squid science and adventure, along the way addressing some riddles about what intelligence is, and what monsters lie in the deep. In addition to squid, both giant and otherwise, Kraken examines other equally enthralling cephalopods, including the octopus and the cuttlefish, and explores their otherworldly abilities, such as camouflage and bioluminescence. Accessible and entertaining, Kraken is also the first substantial volume on the subject in more than a decade and a must for fans of popular science.”

— Product Description

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. The Supper
  2. Moon-walker claims alien contact cover-up
  3. Funny FAILS
  4. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  5. Critical thinking
  6. Bills planned to legalize abortion murders??
  7. The B**BQUAKE — 911 — the end of atheism
  8. Fascism on the march…
  9. Go to jail, read the Bible
  10. IDiot exposes once again, ID’s religious nature
  1. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  2. Evolving a Venom or Two
  3. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  4. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  5. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  6. What is a Skeptic and Why Bother Being One?
  7. Cold Reading
  8. Skeptic Summary #326
  9. TAM5
  10. Paradigm Paralysis
There were 7,706 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 2011, all rights reserved.

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