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Skeptic Summary #370

By The Staff
Posted on: 8/7/2012

Skeptic conversion, equal criticism, mabus, head of household, pets, please help and more!

Week ending August 05, 2012 (Vol 9, #19)

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:
The conversion of a climate-change skeptic - Congress hearing didn’t go as GOP expected.

Equal criticism - I see your atheism and raise with a First Amendment violation.

How the divine pen of N crushed the atheists - The spectre of David Mabus is back.

How to be a Christian ‘head of household’ - When the head is dumb, the rest of the body suffers.

Editor’s Choice: Is it unethical to keep pets? - It depends.

Kil’s Evil Pick:
Welp. I don’t have one. It’s not for a lack of looking around, but really, nothing much stood out to me as worthy of conferring my blessings upon. I’m sure they are out there. I just didn’t come up with one today. But rather than not write anything, I will use this space to make a request from both of my readers. I’ll get to that in a moment.

Also, I would not be completely truthful if I did not admit to being somewhat preoccupied by the Curiosity Rover Landing on Mars tonight, and the Olympics. Science and sports! While I am a huge science fan, I’m one of those guys who only becomes a serious sports fan for a couple of weeks once every four years. (I used to be a big Dodger fan, but since O’Malley’s ownership ended, they have become just another generic team to me. I lost interest in them when they started selling veggie wraps and salads and Perrier at the concession stands, filled the foul territory with seats, and became just another high bidder for players who didn’t come up through the Dodger farm system. Oh well. All that’s left is Vin Scully. And that’s almost good enough. But only almost.)

Vin Scully

This will be the 370th edition of the SFN Skeptic Summary. That’s 370 Evil Picks! And we have our eighth annual Summer Spectacular edition coming up. That one is a lot of work and we haven’t even started on it yet.

I know that people blog every day. They write something, often long articles, day in and day out. I’m not one of those people. I can do this once a week. And now and then I pump out an article. And while I love writing, it doesn’t come easy to me. I sometimes marvel at how prolific many of the bloggers out there are. And some of them manage to write all of those long articles without being boring! And then there are the people who write whole books. As a songwriter, I fussed over every word I wrote. I still make changes to songs that I wrote over 30 years ago. Songs that no one will ever hear. I sometimes reread my prose and I just want to shoot myself. Or at least go back and fix everything. In fact, I’m lying. The writing part is pretty easy. It’s the editing (before I allow other people to fix what I wrote) that’s hard. Take this digression for example. Do I keep it or do I toss it?

And what does any of this have to do with skepticism? Nothing really. I’ll keep working on my Evil Picks as long as there are sites that I think are worthy of promoting. But there will not be one today, because I came up empty when I looked, and I have been sidetracked by other things.

And now, about that request I mentioned. Are you still with me? I realize that you can’t help me if I get sidetracked. But you can help me by suggesting sites that you think are worth promoting to our community of skeptics, science geeks, all around geeks and freethinkers. It could be some cool science site or something whacky. Or it could be a cause that you think is worth promoting. It could be almost anything as long as it’s a website and it’s interesting and at least tangentially related to science and skepticism. (I’ll be the judge of that.) If I pick a site that you have suggested, I will most assuredly tip my hat in your direction unless you request that I don’t mention where the tip came from. And that’s about that I guess.

Please send your suggestions to:


If 50 million people believe a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.
— Anatole France

Chat Highlights:
Wednesday: Let’s see. Terry is either up or down in the stock market. I’m not sure which. Sailingsoul has ordered a new computer. Too bad for him it won’t be a Mac. Just saying… Most of us are watching the Olympics. At least the people who were in chat are. And there was some other stuff too. I just don’t recall it because I can’t log chat. Starting next week our regular chat host, Dr. Mabuse will be back, and so will our regular chat summaries. One less thing for me!

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
9 religious companies (besides Chick-fil-A)

Acupuncturists — Uncle Sam wants you

Animal activists use terrorist tactics and smear campaigns

Aurora Shooting Victim: We’re Not Blessed

Billionaire Palmer rumoured to be planning dinosaur cloning project

The cables!

Catholic Church Lies About Anti-Gay Discrimination

Dominican Republic abortion ban stops treatment for pregnant teen with cancer

Doubtful Newsblog

Former Argentinian dictator says he told Catholic Church of disappeared

Fury at Hasidic biz dress codes

Richard Dawkins Demonstrates Laryngeal Nerve of the Giraffe

Skepticality #187 — The End is Nigh?

Templeton awards $5 Million grant for study of afterlife

US evangelical Christians accused of promoting homophobia in Africa

The water car fraud

We may have a pig problem

WND: Evolution Is a Religion of Murder

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

Book of the Week:
Ignorance: How It Drives Science, by Stuart Firestein.

“Knowledge is a big subject, says Stuart Firestein, but ignorance is a bigger one. And it is ignorance — not knowledge — that is the true engine of science.

Most of us have a false impression of science as a surefire, deliberate, step-by-step method for finding things out and getting things done. In fact, says Firestein, more often than not, science is like looking for a black cat in a dark room, and there may not be a cat in the room. The process is more hit-or-miss than you might imagine, with much stumbling and groping after phantoms. But it is exactly this ‘not knowing,’ this puzzling over thorny questions or inexplicable data, that gets researchers into the lab early and keeps them there late, the thing that propels them, the very driving force of science. Firestein shows how scientists use ignorance to program their work, to identify what should be done, what the next steps are, and where they should concentrate their energies. And he includes a catalog of how scientists use ignorance, consciously or unconsciously — a remarkable range of approaches that includes looking for connections to other research, revisiting apparently settled questions, using small questions to get at big ones, and tackling a problem simply out of curiosity. The book concludes with four case histories — in cognitive psychology, theoretical physics, astronomy, and neuroscience — that provide a feel for the nuts and bolts of ignorance, the day-to-day battle that goes on in scientific laboratories and in scientific minds with questions that range from the quotidian to the profound.

Turning the conventional idea about science on its head, Ignorance opens a new window on the true nature of research. It is a must-read for anyone curious about science.”

— Book Description

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Bedini motor
  2. Little-a versus big-A atheism
  3. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  4. The speed of light and mass
  5. How the divine pen of N crushed the atheists
  6. Funny FAILS
  7. Rebecca Watson not appearing at TAM
  8. Equal criticism
  9. Creationist textbook: ‘Electricity is a mystery’
  10. The Battle of Tehran
  1. Evolving a Venom or Two
  2. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  3. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  4. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  5. Free the Glutens, or When a Cookie isn’t Just a Cookie
  6. Evolution, Scientology Style
  7. TAM5
  8. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  9. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony!
  10. Skeptic Summary #369
There were 7,177 daily visitors this week.
Last Month’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Little-a versus big-A atheism
  2. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  3. Bedini motor
  4. Rebecca Watson not appearing at TAM
  5. Funny FAILS
  6. How the divine pen of N crushed the atheists
  7. The speed of light and mass
  8. The Battle of Tehran
  9. Random fun
  10. Persecution, real and imagined: gays vs. Cameron
  11. Stan Lee’s superhumans
  12. Fif50ty FreAkieSt AnIMaLS
  13. Predictably, the gun control debate heats up
  14. Wrong images of Saturn
  15. Scientist: No knuckle-walkers in human ancestry
  16. Scattershots: gargoyles & grotesques
  17. The Supper
  18. Ghostly images
  19. Atheism: Contemporary Rates and Patterns
  20. Mr. Paul Aints
  1. Evolving a Venom or Two
  2. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  3. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  4. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  5. Evolution, Scientology Style
  6. Quantum Age Water
  7. Scientific Truth
  8. Cold Reading
  9. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony!
  10. Miracle Thaw Tray
  11. Free the Glutens, or When a Cookie isn’t Just a Cookie
  12. Evolution is a Lie
  13. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  14. What is a Skeptic and Why Bother Being One?
  15. TAM5
  16. How Do Vaccines Work?
  17. Skeptic Summary #368
  18. Astrology
  19. Skeptic Summary #367
  20. Preaching that Anti-Evolution Propaganda
There were 32,826 daily visitors in July, 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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