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Skeptic Summary #359

By The Staff
Posted on: 3/19/2012

Randi, trolling, Limbaugh, Area 51, Ancient Aliens, hate speech, evolution documentaries and more!

Week ending March 18, 2012 (Vol 9, #8)

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:
A difficult post - A potentially bad blow to James Randi’s credibility.

A disturbing trend, ’er no? - The troll finally gets the boot.

Limbaugh goes too far; some sponsors bailing - …and not a moment too soon.

Occupy Area 51 - A call for fellow conspiracy-nuts to do a collective Darwin Award.

Pseudohistory Channel: Ancient Aliens - The History Channel get pointed and laughed at.

Editor’s Choice: Hate speech - What’s the definition of censorship?

Kil’s Evil Pick:
Evolution Documentaries — Charles Darwin wrote:
There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

Back in our Skeptic Summary #339, I directed you to a YouTube channel called Why Evolution Is True. If you click the link, you will see that there have been some problems with that channel, apparently the problems were over copyright infringements. And yet, they still exist over here. I don’t know what went down, and wonderful videos still exist on the site, but I do know that on the channel there is a suggestion to Subscribe to my main channel. The main channel being Evolution Documentaries. So in a sense, this pick is an update. But more, it is directions to a vastly larger collection of science documentaries having to do with evolution.

So with that out of the way, lets take a look at the Evolution Documentaries YouTube channel, shall we? As with Why Evolution is true, the site is pretty self-explanatory. Go there, and find a documentary that will interest you. If you click on Playlists, you will see that the films have arrived on the site by way of the BBC, PBS, NOVA, Channel 4, National Geographic, The History Channel, The Discovery Channel and more. Click on any of the links above and you will see the selections from each channel individually. If you happen to click on All, what will probably stand out (along with the choice of videos) is that there are 110 of them available for viewing now and the list is constantly growing. That’s a lot of documentary on one topic. But then, evolution is a big subject.

You will undoubtedly recognize some of the titles. There might be shows you would like to revisit, and altogether new shows that you didn’t know about. There are a few series with David Attenborough that I hadn’t seen, and the Darwin’s Dangerous Idea series from the BBC, that I had seen, but I enjoyed it once again. There’s also the Triumph Of Life series from PBS, Becoming Human from NOVA, and so much more. And really, it’s amazing how many really good documentaries were made about evolution and the diversity of life on this planet. I would like to believe that they are of general interest, because someone is paying for them. I would like to believe that…

I happen to love science documentaries. Most of what I watch on Netflix are science documentaries. (Stop snickering!) These days I don’t seem to have the time I used to have for reading books, and what reading I do is mostly research in some area of debate that is of interest to skeptics, or in the area of politics. Much of it I do online. Obviously you don’t get the depth of knowledge from a science documentary made for general consumption that you will find in books on similar subjects. Sometimes you will, but not usually. On the plus side, the concepts are often presented in a way that is easy to understand, and there’s just no getting around the very cool nature footage or CGI graphics that make the shows come alive. In an important way, they are a genre apart from books that adds to the richness of information and knowledge available to us, and in the case of Evolution Documentaries, it’s only a click away. Plus, it’s free!

…Religions are tough. Either they make no contentions which are subject to disproof or they quickly redesign doctrine after disproof. The fact that religions can be so shamelessly dishonest, so contemptuous of the intelligence of their adherents, and still flourish does not speak very well for the tough-mindedness of the believers. But it does indicate, if a demonstration was needed, that near the core of the religious experience is something remarkably resistant to rational inquiry.
— Carl Sagan

Chat Highlights:
Wednesday, the 29th: I was late. Mab, our usual chat host wasn’t there. Anyhow, Terry filled us in on his stock market update. The effervestent Storm was on hand to provide us with tales that we interpret differently than she does, and I’m sure politics worked its way in there, because it always does. We had a nice visit from Boron10 who somehow found the time in his very long day to chat with us for a while. Nice! So we ventured into talk of submarines, the Navy and where good bagels can be found. (Not in the state of Washington, unless they are home made, apparently.) A good time was had by all. I’m sure of that because chat lasted almost three hours.

Wednesday, the 7th: Dr. Mabuse broke the news about getting elected into the local trade union board. We started a little on stock trade and school. Then the search for Bigfoot: “we discover and rediscover animals everyday” does not cut it. It’s all about context. Then we joked around about Area 51. And Stargate, the TV series. Then we started competing about who would out-geek the other with vintage sci-fi. When the discussion turned to psychology and sleep, and hypnotization and sleep, everyone got tired and dozed off. The chat ended with chatters dreaming about having a discussion about Rush Limbaugh.

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
10 robots that could take over the world

Ancient tracks are elephant herd

Are rich people more unethical?

Donald Trump accused of bullying Scottish government

Chromosome Analyses of Prickly Pear Cacti Reveal Southern Glacial Refugia

Climate Change, Increasing Temperatures Alter Bird Migration Patterns

Doubtful Newsblog

European Neanderthals Were On the Verge of Extinction Even Before the Arrival of Modern Humans

How Earth’s Primordial Soup Came to Life

How We Won the Hominid Wars, and All the Others Died Out

How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy

In the Genes, but Which Ones? Studies That Linked Specific Genes to Intelligence Were Largely Wrong, Experts Say

Japan plans snail-paced space elevator for 2050

Male Y chromosome extinction theory challenged

Meet Plants’ and Algae’s Common Ancestor: Primitive Organisms Not Always So Simple, Researcher Says

More Powerful Electric Cars: Mechanism Behind Capacitor’s High-Speed Energy Storage Discovered

Nearly All Vertebrates, Including Us, Descended From a Creature With An Electromagnetic Sixth Sense

A New, Beautifully Colored Lizard Discovered in the Peruvian Andes

New inquest into baby’s ‘dingo’ death

New type of alien planet is steamy “waterworld”

New Ultradense Planet Found; Astronomers Baffled

Newport Beach Banker Leaves One-Percent Tip to Waitress in Fashion Island, Writes “Get a Real Job” on Receipt

On rice and arsenic

Origin of Photosynthesis Revealed: Genome Analysis of ‘Living Fossil’ Sheds Light On the Evolution of Plants

Perpetual Motion ‘Time Crystals’ May Exist, Physicist Says

Physicists Entangle 8 Photons in ‘Spooky’ Experiment

Plant blooms after 30,000 years in permafrost

Proof That Hitler Had An Illegitimate Son?

Quality of Life of Obese Dogs Improves When They Lose Weight

Richard Dawkins in ‘single-celled ancestor’ shock

Scientist Finds The Earth Isn’t Rotating

Sci-fi author reveals series plot for cancer-ridden fan

Secret Renaissance Letter Reveals Plan to Save England

Single-molecule ‘electric car’ taken for test drive

Skepticality #177 — Can You Make Your Brain Happy?

Sweden bids to be European base for Virgin Galactic

These Weeks in Intelligent Design

Thunderf00t: YouTube Has Started Banning Religiously Offensive Videos

The truth about cats and dogs

To Get at Treats, This Dingo Uses Tools

Too Big to Jail

Trouble in paradise: Maldives and Islamic extremism

Wacky Physics: New Uncertainty About the Uncertainty Principle

What does science fiction tell us about the future of reproductive rights?

What’s New by Bob Park

When Anti-Theft Concept Devices Were More Brutal

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

Book of the Week:
Unnatural Acts: Critical Thinking, Skepticism, and Science Exposed!, by Robert Todd Carroll.

Unnatural Acts is for people who want to improve their thinking, become more accurate in their beliefs and more reasonable in their actions, and who are tired of being fooled by others.

This book is about natural and unnatural thinking, and how the way we think affects everything we do. Natural thinking is instinctive, intuitive, quick and dirty. It works pretty well most of the time, but it can get us into trouble. We can deceive ourselves into believing what’s not true or even what goes against our own self-interest, if we’re not careful. And manipulators who understand natural thinking can use that understanding to hoodwink us into believing what isn’t true or doing what they want us to do. You can reduce the chances of being duped by learning how to think in unnatural ways. I hope this book helps you do that.”

— Product Description

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  2. Shit New Age Girls Say
  3. Funny FAILS
  4. Scattershots: gargoyles & grotesques
  5. Fif50ty FreAkieSt AnIMaLS
  6. Hate speech
  7. A difficult post
  8. David Icke blasts Richard Dawkins and ‘skeptics’
  9. ‘Zion Oil’ getting into hot water?
  10. Christianity, immaterialism and falsifiability
  1. Laetrile
  2. Evolving a Venom or Two
  3. Scientific Truth
  4. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  5. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  6. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  7. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  8. What is a Skeptic and Why Bother Being One?
  9. Newton’s Third Law
  10. How Do Vaccines Work?
There were 6,565 daily visitors this week.
Last Month’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  2. A disturbing trend, ’er no?
  3. Shit New Age Girls Say
  4. Yeast evolves multicellularity in lab in 60 days
  5. Funny FAILS
  6. Scattershots: gargoyles & grotesques
  7. Fif50ty FreAkieSt AnIMaLS
  8. God’s ‘shyness’ makes ID hard to prove?
  9. The Battle of Tehran
  10. Jesus tempts Satan
  11. The Missing Universe Museum
  12. Scientist: No knuckle-walkers in human ancestry
  13. ‘Zion Oil’ getting into hot water?
  14. The Supper
  15. Science / Religion Flow Chart
  16. Alcoholics Anonymous
  17. DMV Senior Motorcyclist Handbook
  18. Stan Lee’s superhumans
  19. Scattershots: Cleaning out the pipes
  20. The Zeitgeist evidence
  1. Evolving a Venom or Two
  2. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  3. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  4. Scientific Truth
  5. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  6. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  7. TAM4
  8. The Legend of the Shrinking Sun
  9. What is a Skeptic and Why Bother Being One?
  10. How Do Vaccines Work?
  11. Skeptic Summary #287
  12. B17
  13. Cold Reading
  14. Miracle Thaw Tray
  15. N. 25, June 2002: Ecology vs. ecophily — being reasonable about saving the environment
  16. Free the Glutens, or When a Cookie isn’t Just a Cookie
  17. Preaching that Anti-Evolution Propaganda
  18. Skeptic Summary #356
  19. Evolution, Scientology Style
  20. The Biblical support for a Flat Earth and Geocentricism
There were 28,809 daily visitors in February, 2012.

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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