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Skeptic Summary

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Skeptic Summary #375

By The Staff
Posted on: 11/4/2012

Atheism, Chick, the election, quaking scientists, blasphemy, UFOs, oatmeal and more!

Week ending November 04, 2012 (Vol 9, #24)

Welcome to the Skeptic Summary, a quick, bi-weekly review of the Skeptic Friends Network and the rest of the skeptical world.

This issue of The Skeptic Friends Network Skeptic Summary is dedicated to the memory of Paul Kurtz. His contributions to the rise of the skeptical and freethinking movements, and his promotion of secularism and humanism are in a very large part the foundation that all of today’s freethinking movements are built upon.

Forum Highlights:
Atheism period - One man’s social justice fighters are another man’s cult?

Another Jack Chick showing - He’s got fans in the US Naval Postgraduate School

Election 2012 - Concentrated and condensed commentary

Scientists aghast over Italian quake verdicts - Skeptics aghast too. Burn the witch scientists!

Editor’s Choice: A year of blasphemy - Free speech vs. the right to not get religiously offended.

From the Archives: A great day for skepticism - A Widely reported UFO sighting wasn’t a UFO after all.

This Week’s Poll:
Election 2012 poll - Who ya gonna vote fer?

Kil’s Evil Pick:
The Oatmeal — Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Falling off of a ladder would be one of those things. I did that this week and injured my shoulder in the process of falling. That was definitely not my plan when I climbed the ladder. And really, nothing much good will come from injuring my shoulder. I’ve been icing it eating ibuprofen like candy. And this kind of injury takes time to heal. Sometimes months! On the other hand, mentioning that things don’t always go as planned and bringing up my fall does two things for me: I get to elicit some sympathy from my readers, while at the same time constructing an awkward segue into the how I came about choosing The Oatmeal as my pick.

After looking over some Halloween sites, creepy sites and science sites, some of them very good, but somehow unsatisfying to me, I hit on the idea of finding a site dedicated to Nikola Tesla. Why? While he was a great and somewhat under-appreciated scientist and all, and well deserving of our interest, I was going for the cool photos of electric bolts traveling across rooms and up Tesla coils and stuff like that. Why? Remember those early Frankenstein films? While it’s true that Tesla only made one of those props officially, his gadgets were pretty much the inspiration for lab sets in all of those early Frankenstein movies. Bzzzzzt… Crash… Zap… “It’s Alive!

In my search for a great Tesla site, I happened on an article/cartoon called “Why Nikola Tesla Was the Greatest Geek Who Ever Lived.” (I give you permission to stop reading this Pick right now and click on the link to the Tesla article/cartoon and go read it. Then either comeback here, or look over the site it’s posted on.) I was thrilled with article. It was everything and more than what I was looking for. And being so close to Halloween… Well, you get the idea.

So about The Oatmeal: I sure did take the long way around to get here. But what a cool site! And with cartoon titles on the site like, “If my brain were my imaginary friend” and “How to suck at your religion,” I became an instant fan.

There is a menu that I’m not going to provide the links to but it does include Cats, Grammar and Food.. There are also quizzes, a blog and a shop. Oh, and the author of the site has a couple of books out.

From the site:
About The Oatmeal

Everything on this site was written, drawn, and coded by Matthew Inman.

The Oatmeal’s real name is Matthew and he lives in Seattle, Washington. He subsists on a steady diet of crickets and whiskey. He enjoys long walks on the beach, gravity, and breathing heavily through his mouth. His dislikes include scurvy, typhoons, and tapeworm medication.

You can learn more about Matthew here:

You can follow The Oatmeal via Twitter, Facebook, RSS, or Email.

So that’s about it. Go to The Oatmeal and enjoy! If you have any geek in you, I don’t see how you can do otherwise.

And by the by: I hope you had a fun and safe Halloween!

The meaning of life is not to be discovered only after death in some hidden, mysterious realm; on the contrary, it can be found by eating the succulent fruit of the Tree of Life and by living in the here and now as fully and creatively as we can.
— Paul Kurtz

Chat Highlights:
Wednesday, October 17th and 24th: We’ve had two chats since our last chat summary. What we don’t have is a chat host. So the chats are not being logged. But as I recall, we figured out the meaning of life and who will be elected, and… well… a lot of stuff that of major importance. And I know we had a good time because we always do.

Wednesday, October 31st: This chat fell between the chairs as a mismatch between European and American Daylight Savings dates messed things up for our chat moderator, Dr. Mabuse. Once he made it to the chat, an hour late, the chat-room was empty. Deepest apologies.

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:
sanu francis dutta

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
5 Ways Your Taste in Music is Scientifically Programmed

10 Completely False ‘Facts’ Everyone Knows

The 20 Weirdest Religious Beliefs

Academics call out Dr. Oz as misleading

Doubtful News

For real? Chowmein consumption causing increase in rapes, say Indian council

Good thing we’re studying the important issues

Holocaust survivors rally round Church of England

Leon Jaroff, a “Skeptical Eye”, dies

Martin Sheen and Woody Harrelson set for 9/11 ‘truther’ film September Morn

Mayans demand an end to 2012 doomsday myth

Paul Kurtz dies at 86; secular humanist philosopher

Philippines birth control: Filipinos want it, priests don’t

Probe of Antarctica’s hidden lakes may yield clues to extraterrestrial life

Scientists measure the universe’s first starlight

Skeptic Legend: Interview with Ray Hyman

The Skeptic’s Dictionary Newsletter, November, 2012

Skepticality #193 — A Threesome With Jesus

Skepticality #194 — A Good Death

Study casts doubt on human-Neanderthal interbreeding theory

Study examines influence of media messages on perceptions of paranormal investigators’ credibility

Super Sad and Misguided Emails Intended for the Long Island Medium

Ten Reasons to Reject the Apologetic 10/42 Source Slogan

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:
Exuberant Skepticism, by Paul Kurtz.

“For more than three decades, philosopher Paul Kurtz has been a strong advocate of skepticism, not only as a philosophical position, but also as a fulfilling way of life. Contrary to the view that skepticism is merely a negative, nay saying, or debunking stance toward commonly held beliefs, skepticism as defined by Kurtz emerges reborn as ‘skeptical inquiry’ — a decidedly positive philosophy ready and able to change the world.

In this definitive collection, editor John R. Shook has gathered together seventeen of Paul Kurtz’s most penetrating and insightful writings. Altogether these essays build an affirmative case for what can be known based on sound common sense, reason, and scientific method. And as each essay cogently and convincingly explains, so much can be known, from the natural world around us to the moral responsibilities among us.

The work is organized in four topical sections. In the first, ‘Reasons to Be Skeptical,’ Kurtz presents compelling reasons why the methods of inquiry used by the sciences deserve respect. In short, science provides reliable knowledge, without which humanity would never have emerged from the age of myth and widespread ignorance. In the second section, ‘Skepticism and the Non-Natural,’ Kurtz shows how skeptical inquiry can be fruitfully used to critique both paranormal claims and religious worldviews. He also investigates whether science and religion can be compatible. In the third section, ‘Skepticism in the Human World,’ he considers how skeptical inquiry can be applied to politics, ethics, and pursuit of the good life. Realizing the essential connections between scientific knowledge, technological power, and social progress, Kurtz has understood, as few other philosophers ever have, how the methods of intelligence can be applied to all areas of human endeavor.

The volume concludes with Kurtz’s authoritative reflections on the skeptical movement that he founded and has led. As he never tires of explaining, the forces of blind faith and stubborn unreason still fight for control of the mind, so the skeptic can never rest. If there is a brighter future for humanity, a future in which every person enjoys a realistic opportunity for the pursuit of excellence, Kurtz’s exuberant skepticism can show us the way.”

— Book Description

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  2. Atheism period
  3. Random fun
  4. Stan Lee’s superhumans
  5. Medical acronyms
  6. Scattershots: gargoyles & grotesques
  7. The water cooler, part 3
  8. Little-a versus big-A atheism
  9. Fif50ty FreAkieSt AnIMaLS
  10. Funny FAILS
  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. What is a Skeptic and Why Bother Being One?
  6. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  7. The Biblical support for a Flat Earth and Geocentricism
  8. Cold Reading
  9. How Do Vaccines Work?
  10. Free the Glutens, or When a Cookie isn’t Just a Cookie
There were 6,622 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. Stand by Me
  4. HOWTO: make hyperlinked text, insert a URL-link
  5. Stan Lee’s superhumans
  6. Chupacabra sold to creationist museum
  7. Scattershots: gargoyles & grotesques
  8. Atheism period
  9. Funny FAILS
  10. Random fun
  11. Fif50ty FreAkieSt AnIMaLS
  12. The water cooler, part 3
  13. The Supper
  14. Jesus tempts Satan
  15. Medical acronyms
  16. Scattershots: the stone art of Mesoamerica
  17. Latest on the "Antikythera Mechanism"
  18. Bedini motor
  19. How the divine pen of N crushed the atheists
  20. Rebecca Watson not appearing at TAM
  1. Strategy Ideas for Skeptics
  2. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  3. Evolving a Venom or Two
  4. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  5. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  6. Cold Reading
  7. What is a Skeptic and Why Bother Being One?
  8. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  9. How Do Vaccines Work?
  10. Free the Glutens, or When a Cookie isn’t Just a Cookie
  11. Skeptic Summary #374
  12. Skeptic Summary #373
  13. The Legend of the Shrinking Sun
  14. TAM5
  15. Kent Hovind is a Big Phony!
  16. Scientific Truth
  17. Preaching that Anti-Evolution Propaganda
  18. The Biblical support for a Flat Earth and Geocentricism
  19. Skeptic Summary #358
  20. Quantum Age Water
There were 34,660 daily visitors in October, 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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