Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The 127th edition of the Skeptics' Circle

One of the nice things about this time of year is that, with my classes ended, I have time for other things. That's why I am finally able to take the time needed to host the 127th Skeptics' Circle. I probably won't have another chance until the 153rd. While I had hoped to have either a best-of-2009 theme or a beginnings-and-endings theme, only one cool cat noticed. Still, I should have been more proactive, so I can only blame myself. At any rate, this is my 100th post (yeah!), and I'm just going with a straight-up listing below the fold.

We'll start with a look at historical electrical quackery at Providentia. For me, it was a reminder that as awful as quackery is today, it seems like it was even worse a hundred years ago.

Next, at Stuff and Nonsense, we get an entry on how repeating a myth, even in the course of debunking it, can backfire, and another on argumentation tactics that do more harm than good. I'm not too sure on Fail #10, some ideas are so ridiculous that only mockery seems to do them justice.

Over at The Uncredible Hallq, we get a criticism of an AP story on how the scientists reacted to unfounded complaints. He blames overly active journalistic balance, my first thought is sensationalism bias.

A Stone-Cold Creationist talk is discussed over at Bay of Fundie. If I were to call him the six million dollar creationist, would that date me too severely?

Apparently, Australian Television actually mixes some skepticism into its news on occasion. Rainbow of Chaos offers a video of a skeptic embarrassing a woomeister.

While the PodBlack Cat goes on a hiatus (with our condolences), she leaves us with a couple of choice offerings: a list of good skeptical books and a a new podcast project called the Token Skeptic.

If you want to know who in Sweden did the most to enlighten and who did the most to confuse, look no further than the official annual announcements from the Swedish Skeptic Society's, reported to us by Aardvarchaeology.

Skepdude celebrates the tendency of skeptics to turn on each other at the slightest hint of irrationality, even the the irrational person is none other than the Great Randi, over on Skepfeeds.

We have a trio from The Skeptical Teacher, which you might call the cool, the snarky, and the fun. Next time I want to put some stickers on a few eggs and then vaporize them from friction, I know who to talk to.

My final blog guest this week, Weird Things, has posted a reality check for Deepak Chopra. No one expects Chopra to cash it, naturally.

In a slight change of pace, one of my favorite posters at the Skeptics' Annotated Bible Discussion Board, Xenolan, posted thoughts on the differences between how skeptics and religious people approach knowledge, and I really wanted to include them.

Finally, because I am much too vain to not include one of my own posts, we have the thirteenth, and probably last, part of my response to The Last Superstition.

I'll be looking for the 128th Skeptics' circle on January 14th at Ionian Enchantment, and hope to see many of you there too.


DM said...

Merry X-MAS, my little atheists!

Looks like your website is under attack from supernatural forces...

these little insignificant fools try to use science to destroy every mystery in the universe...

but not this one!

First of all: Nostradamus demolishes "atheism"

__________________________________________________ __
wait, wait...

I forgot something...

you little shits even talk about me....



Sing from the rooftops:

"Atheism is dead!"



Let's hear what "SNOPES" and "DAVID EMERY" have to say about NOSTRADAMUS & 9.11


"Once again, a very few words actually written by Nostradamus — individual lines drawn from two disparate quatrains, in fact — have been taken out of context, rearranged, and supplemented with made-up lines by person(s) unknown to make them seem pertinent to the event. The result, as before, is pure bunk. Not even Nostradamus would want to take credit for this "prediction." Anyone else want to have a go?"

Ok, I'll give it a shot...



have you for but a moment considered that you have adopted a position against 98% of the human race, both past and present?

do you think you are RIGHT and they are all WRONG?


now listen to this arrogant puffed up son of a bitch....

little scientist geek who would try to usurp God Himself!!!

Zeno said...

I see you've been invaded by DM as well - he's spouting his nonsense all over atheist/skeptical websites.

One Brow said...

It took me 99 posts to get a spammer. Is that a high number or a low number?

J said...

Congrats on Skeptics Circle.

Xenolan makes a few interesting points:

Yes, we Skeptics do have a strong belief in Science, as a process. And I would defy any Religionist to explain why we should not. I find no fault in the reasoning that the scientific process of observation, hypothesis, experimentation, analysis, conclusion, and repetition is a perfectly valid way to gain real knowledge. The knowledge itself is always up for revision; that's what the "repetition" part is all about. Belief in the process demands a certain degree of faith - but not much, all things considered.

His comments pointing out the differences between scientific thinking vs. faith are not bad, though I think skeptics (and anyone,really) should distinguish between, shall we say, Billy Bob Baptist types, and more sophisticated religious thinkers--like Feser or Doc Reppert.

I don't generally agree with Feser's neo-thomist views (not to say his Mussolini-lite politics), but he's not merely saying, as many Billy Bobs (ie, creationists) say, "in the Bible, G*d said it, therefore it's true."

Feser and most catholics claim to uphold Rational theology. I don't think they can prove the existence of G*d rationally, but non-believers should probably spend a few nano-seconds contemplating the thomistic chestnuts......

Similarly Dr. Behe's argument's for intelligent design, however odd, also demands a bit more thought than just affirming dogma. I mean, if certain cellular mechanisms are highly complex (ie, cilia) and more or less biological machines, making the inference that nature shows sign of Intelligence of some form does not seem, prima facie, ludicrous (though I think saying it proves judeo-christian/monotheistic tradition is another matter). Does that mean Behe's IDT theory should be taught in public schools? Probably not. But perhaps touched upon.

Also, while most sane people would agree the scientific method/experimentation works, that doesn't in itself prove it's.......good, beneficial, valuable. IG Farben's experiments with zyklon B also were successful, as were the Manhattan Project for that matter. Utility in itself--e.g. Zyklon B was great at liquidating humans, nuclear weapony works too-- does not prove inherent worth. Science, and the applications of science do involve something like ethics---at times the Dawkins crowd seems to forget that .

All technology is good, God is imagined said...

I am interested in this skeptics' circle--but I have, only, discovered this website today. I am not a scientist, but my father, who was a chemist, taught me a lot about science, especially, chemistry and physics. I would like to join the circle--can a new poster join, and is joining as simple as posting in the comments, or does the member have to travel to physical location? The third-to-last comment, the second post by someone known as "obdurate hater of rhythm games" has some interesting ideas--can we have a skeptical discussion of those?

One Brow said...

All technology is good, God is imagined:

The circle is a collection of blog posts offered by a different host every to weeks. I have a widget near the top right if you ant to see some past incarnations. If you have a post you want to submit to the circle, contact ionian Enchantment for inclusion in the 128th edition. If you want to host a circle, contact Orac.

e could probably discuss some of the ideas in the comment you mention, but I may not be the best choice for either brain-state analysis or a discussion of meaning of the double-slit experiment. To my uninformed eyes, it reads like Choprawoo.

One Brow said...


I don't know if you have visited the SABDB either occasionally or regularly, but one thing I can guarantee you: in addition to standard dismissals by some posters, any ideas that are brought up also get very detailed examinations by other posters. What's even more fun is how some posters tend to act one way on one topic and another way in a different topic.

Techskeptic said...

Well one brow, I have written way more than 100 posts and Mabus only shit on my blog a couple of weeks ago. Took him long enough.

Didnt like my post huh? Oh well, I'll try again next circle.

One Brow said...


I'm sorry you were overlooked. I don't recall getting an email from you. Did you get a response from me? I aloways enjoy entries from Effort Sisyphus, and I'm sure I would have included this one.

Techskeptic said...

no biggie. I sent it on 12/29 I did not get a response. I'll slip it into the next one if I can.