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Skeptic Summary #397

By The Staff
Posted on: 2/17/2014

Nye and Ham, wages and gender, Snowden and Nobel, Darwin and creationists, skepticism and global warming and more!

Week ending February 17, 2014 (Vol 11, #3)

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

Forum Highlights:
Bill Nye to debate Ken Ham - Debate is done. Who won, and who lost?

Gender wage gap - It’s about lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Snowden nominated for Nobel Peace Prize - He has many supporters, but did he promote world peace?

Editor’s Choice: You know what’s so laughable about Darwinism? - Let me guess: Creationists always get it wrong?

Kil’s Evil Pick:
[Oldie but goodie] 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!

It is better to ask some of the questions than to know all the answers.
— James Thurber

Wednesday, February 6th: Dr. Mabuse is back as chat moderator. First topic out was music, specifically Led Zeppelin and uncredited influences and blatant steals. Then we pondered over Dennis Markuse’s reappearance. Apparently the treatment isn’t working as effectively as we had hoped. Dr. Mabuse explained how gun laws for hand guns work in Sweden (very different from USA). Someone was having chat problems with a Mac computer… Dangerous exploits while drinking. We finished up the chat by discussing the Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate.

Come chat with us.

New Members This Week:

(Not a member? Become one today!)

Elsewhere in the World:
The 2014 International UFO Congress, Part 1

The 2014 International UFO Congress, Part 2

Christian to Atheist “You are so closed minded!” (Nye-Ham Debate)

A Crystal Anniversary for the Wedge Document

Demonic tale sounds like Hollywood, has little else to hold it up

Discussing global warming: why does this have to be so hard?

Doubtful News

Foerster, Pye and Ketchum collaborate: Paracas elongated skull exposed!

Hearts And Minds

How to Think

Leaving the Anti-Vaccine Movement

Map: Publicly Funded Schools That Are Allowed to Teach Creationism.

The McMartin Daycare Case

More and More Americans Think Astrology Is Science

‘Mother Lode’ of Fossils Discovered in Canada

No Loch Ness Monster sightings for first time since 1925

Opinion: Confronting Creationism

Paleo has jumped the shark

Skepticality #225 — Think

This Is Your Brain on Gluten

Virgin Mary Statue in Israel ‘Weeps Oil’; Owner Says Statue Spoke to Her

Your memory is no video camera: It edits the past with present experiences

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

Book of the Week:
The Critical Thinker’s Dictionary: Biases, Fallacies, and Illusions and What You Can Do About Them, by Robert Carroll.

“‘Know Thyself’ advised the ancient Greek sages at a time when philosophers defined us as rational animals. Rationality was thought of as an ideal largely achievable by controlling the emotions and avoiding logical fallacies. Today, we know better. Biology and neuroscience have exposed the brain as a great deceiver. Unconscious biases drive us to believe and do things that the conscious mind explains in self-serving stories, making us appear more rational to ourselves than we really are. Modern science has taught us that rationality involves much more than just controlling the emotions and avoiding fallacies. Today’s rational animal — what we call the critical thinker — must understand the unconscious biases that are directing many of our most important judgments and decisions. The Critical Thinker’s Dictionary explores the insights of ancient and modern philosophers along with the latest findings in such fields as neuroscience and behavioral economics to lay out the many obstacles and snares that await anyone committed to a rational life. The Critical Thinker’s Dictionary isn’t a collection of dry definitions, but a colorful, three-dimensional portrait of the major obstacles to critical thinking and what we can do to overcome them.”

— Book Description

This Week’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  2. Bill Nye to debate Ken Ham
  3. Riddle II
  4. ‘Debate’ between me and Stan
  5. You know what’ so laughable about Darwinism?
  6. Strangest freeman on the land movement yet?
  7. The Illuminati are actually a force for good
  8. Scattershots: gargoyles & grotesques
  9. The Mask of Nostradamus
  10. Fif50ty FreAkieSt AnIMaLS
  1. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  2. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  3. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  4. Skeptic Summary #389
  5. Skeptic Summary #396
  6. Evidence Cited as Hard Proof of the Existence of Satanic Cults
  7. Evolving a Venom or Two
  8. The Legend of the Shrinking Sun
  9. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  10. Come & Receive your Miracle: A Sunday Afternoon at a Robert Tilton Crusade
There were 7,822 daily visitors this week.
Last Month’s Most-Viewed Pages:
Forum Topics:
  1. Dr. Jeffery Life and Cenegenics
  2. Combat Ki?
  3. Archaeological fraud at Treblinka
  4. Not sure about anti-vax parents…
  5. Strangest freeman on the land movement yet?
  6. The Mask of Nostradamus
  7. Stan Lee’s superhumans
  8. The Skeptic Summary
  9. The Illuminati are actually a force for good
  10. Unbelievable
  11. ‘Debate’ between me and Stan
  12. Does Creationism explain Iridium-rich KT-strata?
  13. Scattershots: gargoyles & grotesques
  14. Does no one understand free speech anymore?
  15. Fif50ty FreAkieSt AnIMaLS
  16. James Randi: a shit idol?
  17. David Icke: king of conspiracists
  18. Kidney stuff
  19. The Zeitgeist evidence
  20. Dan Brown’s “Inferno”
  1. Miracle Thaw — The Bogus Miracle
  2. Is the Speed of Light Slowing Down?
  3. Skeptic Summary #371
  4. Fundamentalists Hate Noah’s Ark
  5. Evolving a Venom or Two
  6. The Legend of the Shrinking Sun
  7. Skeptic Summary #389
  8. The Bible’s Bad Fruits
  9. Skeptic Summary #396
  10. N. 16, October 2001: Heart Disease and the Myth of Individual Responsibility
  11. Skeptic Summary #395
  12. Evidence Cited as Hard Proof of the Existence of Satanic Cults
  13. Cold Reading
  14. Skeptic Summary #372
  15. Evil Skeptic II: A visit to the Conscious Living Expo
  16. Skeptic Summary #365
  17. Skeptic Summary #377
  18. Skeptic Summary #358
  19. How Do Vaccines Work?
  20. Free the Glutens, or When a Cookie isn’t Just a Cookie
There were 39,750 daily visitors in January, 2014.

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 2013, all rights reserved.

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