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Skeptic Summary #355

By The Staff
Posted on: 1/30/2012

Deja vu, doggy style, religious annoyances, New Age girls, PCness, Skeptical Science and more!

Week ending January 29, 2012 (Vol 9, #4)

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:
Déjà vu - Haven’t we had this discussion before?

Hominids and canids trekking together - When dogs evolved to be man’s best friend.

Religious rights trump protection of disabled - Who needs to worry about Sharia when we have Christians?

Shit New Age Girls Say - A funny meme with some baggage.

Editor’s Choice: Political correctness - Or maybe it’s just being a sore winner.

Kil’s Evil Pick:
Skeptical Science: Getting skeptical about global warming skepticism — From the site:
Scientific skepticism is healthy. Scientists should always challenge themselves to improve their understanding. Yet this isn’t what happens with climate change denial. Skeptics vigorously criticise any evidence that supports man-made global warming and yet embrace any argument, op-ed, blog or study that refutes global warming. This website gets skeptical about global warming skepticism. Do their arguments have any scientific basis? What does the peer reviewed scientific literature say?

The beat goes on.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed called, “No Need to Panic About Global Warming.” They supported the bad arguments in the piece by including a list of 16 scientists who signed on in agreement with the editorial. The WSJ, as you might have guessed, has a history of anthropomorphic global warming denial. While not a bastion of liberal thinking and a conservative magazine of some influence, Forbes, of all places, responded with a piece called, “Remarkable Editorial Bias on Climate Science at the Wall Street Journal.” After pointing out several of the flaws in the WSJ article, the Forbes piece goes on to say this about the obvious bias at the WSJ:
…But the most amazing and telling evidence of the bias of the Wall Street Journal in this field is the fact that 255 members of the United States National Academy of Sciences wrote a comparable (but scientifically accurate) essay on the realities of climate change and on the need for improved and serious public debate around the issue, offered it to the Wall Street Journal, and were turned down. The National Academy of Sciences is the nation’s pre-eminent independent scientific organizations. Its members are among the most respected in the world in their fields. Yet the Journal wouldn’t publish this letter, from more than 15 times as many top scientists. Instead they chose to publish an error-filled and misleading piece on climate because some so-called experts aligned with their bias signed it. This may be good politics for them, but it is bad science and it is bad for the nation…

I came by the WSJ piece during a little debate I was having with a conservative fellow who thought that all sides of the climate change debate, as well as creationism, should not be “banned” from being taught in science classrooms. I may have convinced him that creationism is pseudo-science, but without missing a beat, he cited the WSJ article as evidence that AGW isn’t happening. And while that part of the debate is still in limbo, and from a scientific point of view, not as easily dismissed as a flat out pseudoscience like creationism is, it does fall into the category of scientific denial, which was what started the debate, after I made the suggestion that while the Left has its share of scientific denial, (anti-vax and other new-age claims), on a political level, the Right has far more anti-scientific views, whether motivated by religion or economics, and are more given to pushing those views into legislation at the state and federal level, or by executive order, as Bush did when he limited federal funding for stem cell research to existing strains.

AGW denial is pervasive. Articles like the one in the WSJ, the noise makers on Fox News and GOP politicians have kept it alive and well, even though much of the denial that comes to us by way of the conservative echo machine is built on very shaky ground, given the scientific consensus and evidence to the contrary. Dissent is one thing, and even with a consensus of scientists saying that AGW is at least in part a culprit in climate change, it’s unlikely that every single climate scientist will agree. And that’s fine. That’s science for you. But to build an entire case around what a handful of scientists who are not convinced have to say, and suggesting that this small handful of scientists are the ones we should be listening to, only (and that does seems to be what many conservative politicians and the conservative media is saying), and to suggest that the overwhelming consensus among climate scientists is nothing more than a money-driven fraud, is a slide into the realm of pseudoscience, even if it is on an issue that is genuinely scientific in nature.

Which brings me to my pick, Skeptical Science: Getting skeptical about global warming skepticism. While the media has been very sketchy in presenting the facts about global warming, for various reasons, there are Internet sites that get right to the heart of the matter, and tackle the “skepticism” head on. No messing around with balance, as if both sides of every scientific debate is equally valid. I’m talking about sites that are able to present the issues without the constraints or demands that may come from network sponsors, network ownership and/or political bias. The sites I have in mind are about the science, and the science only. And on the AGW front, Skeptical Science is one such site.
About Skeptical Science

The goal of Skeptical Science is to explain what peer reviewed science has to say about global warming. When you peruse the many arguments of global warming skeptics, a pattern emerges. Skeptic arguments tend to focus on narrow pieces of the puzzle while neglecting the broader picture. For example, focus on Climategate emails neglects the full weight of scientific evidence for man-made global warming. Concentrating on a few growing glaciers ignores the world wide trend of accelerating glacier shrinkage. Claims of global cooling fail to realise the planet as a whole is still accumulating heat. This website presents the broader picture by explaining the peer reviewed scientific literature.

Often, the reason for disbelieving in man-made global warming seem to be political rather than scientific. Eg, “it’s all a liberal plot to spread socialism and destroy capitalism”. As one person put it, “the cheerleaders for doing something about global warming seem to be largely the cheerleaders for many causes of which I disapprove”. However, what is causing global warming is a purely scientific question. Skeptical Science removes the politics from the debate by concentrating solely on the science.

The site is updated almost daily with news articles and comments from readers. I’m not going to list the menu subjects. Suffice it to say that the site is comprehensive and a very valuable resource in the battle against bad science and pseudoscience with regard to the global warming debate. Please visit, Skeptical Science: Getting skeptical about global warming skepticism. Thanks!

In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable; and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality.
— Karl Popper

Chat Highlights:
Wednesday: We started talking about pain, pain-pills, and withdrawal. Then we simply had to address President Obama’s State of the Union speech. One chatter wanted to learn hypnotism in order to charm women into dating him, but there was much skepticism against that sort of scheme working. The discussion evolved from that to memory: repression, regression and dissociation, and the dangers of regressing trauma victims. False memory “syndrome” also came up. Then, naturally, we moved on to illusionist and mentalist tricks, like Wiseman’s Card Trick, and Teller’s flower trick.

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
7 Medical Myths Even Doctors Believe

Artificial Intelligence Helps Spot Fossil Sites

The Cause of Zombie Attacks: Genes or Cosmic Twinkies?

Contradictions Don’t Deter Conspiracy Theorists

Do girls naturally prefer dolls to trucks? Evidence from 2 primate studies

Double-dose of cute: Snoring dormouse and soft shoe cat

Doubtful Newsblog

Family in Canada guilty of “honor” killings

Greek village priest held over church treasure dig

Huge pool of Arctic water could cool Europe: study

Into the mind of a Neanderthal

Invisibility Tube Conceals 3-D Objects

Making Memories Last: Prion-Like Protein Plays Key Role in Storing Long-Term Memories

“Miraculous turnaround” for sick Santorum girl

MIT Climate Scientist’s Wife Threatened in a “Frenzy of Hate” and Cyberbullying Fomented by Deniers

NEOShield to assess Earth defence

Origin of Ancient Jade Tool Baffles Scientists

Physicists Hope to Catch Neutrons in the Act of Jumping from Our Universe to Another

Signspotting: Funny signs around the world

What We Learned About Our Human Ancestors in 2011

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

Book of the Week:
Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand, by Haydn Washington and John Cook.

“Humans have always used denial. When we are afraid, guilty, confused, or when something interferes with our self-image, we tend to deny it. Yet denial is a delusion. When it impacts on the health of oneself, or society, or the world it becomes a pathology. Climate change denial is such a case. Paradoxically, as the climate science has become more certain, denial about the issue has increased. The paradox lies in the denial. There is a denial industry funded by the fossil fuel companies that literally denies the science, and seeks to confuse the public. There is denial within governments, where spin-doctors use ‘weasel words’ to pretend they are taking action. However there is also denial within most of us, the citizenry. We let denial prosper and we resist the science.

Climate Change Denial explains the social science behind denial. It contains a detailed examination of the principal climate change denial arguments, from attacks on the integrity of scientists, to impossible expectations of proof and certainty to the cherry picking of data. Climate change can be solved — but only when we cease to deny that it exists. This book shows how we can break through denial, accept reality, and thus solve the climate crisis. It will engage scientists, university students, climate change activists as well as the general public seeking to roll back denial and act.”

— Book Description

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  2. Funny FAILS
  3. How fundies react when they don’t get their way
  4. Scattershots: gargoyles & grotesques
  5. Fif50ty FreAkieSt AnIMaLS
  6. The Battle of Tehran
  7. Jesus tempts Satan
  8. Hominids and canids trekking together
  9. Science / Religion Flow Chart
  10. Chinese Popcorn
  1. Evolving a Venom or Two
  2. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  3. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  4. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  5. Skeptic Summary #354
  6. The Legend of the Shrinking Sun
  7. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  8. Scientific Truth
  9. What is a Skeptic and Why Bother Being One?
  10. Cold Reading
There were 6,458 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 2012, all rights reserved.

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