Best of Skeptics Guide to the Universe 2009

January 4, 2010

This is the best podcast on the web. If you’re not listening to it, you should be ashamed of yourself.


News From Around The Blogosphere 9.29.09

September 29, 2009

1. Egypt out to stop fake virgins -

A leading Egyptian scholar has demanded that people caught importing a female virginity-faking device into the country should face the death penalty.

That just says it all, doesn’t it?

2. R. Crumb’s Bible to be released soon – A while back, I blogged about subversive Cartoonist R. Crumb’s plans to release his own take on the Bible. Well now it’s about to be released:

“I grew to hate the Bible,” he told a press conference for the international launch of “Robert Crumb’s Book of Genesis”, which he called a “gruelling” four year project.

. . .

“The idea of millions of people taking this so seriously is totally nuts,” he added. “The Bible doesn’t need to be satirised. It’s already so crazy.”

3. SGU makes you smarter – My favorite podcast, the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe, has been named among the 15 podcasts that will make you smarter, according to College Crunch website. Congrats guys!

4. Atheist bus ad goes up in Saskatchewan, Canada – It uses the “Don’t Believe In God? You Are Not Alone” slogan but looks a bit different from the one we’ve all gotten used to.


Congratulations to Rebecca Watson!

July 11, 2009

To those who listen to the brilliant Skeptics Guide To The Universe podcast and/or regularly visit the Skepchick.com blog, Rebecca “The Skepchick” Watson has just gotten married at The Amazing Meeting 7 in Vegas.

The first 20 minutes of the following video is a goofy paranormal investigators spoof directed by SGU co-host Jay Novella and you can view the wedding ceremony at TAM beginning just before the 27 minute mark:

Congratulations to Rebecca and Sid!


News From Around The Blogosphere 9.30.08

October 1, 2008

THIS DAY IN GOD:

Not all religiously-motivated terrorist attacks on U.S. soil are caused by Muslims – Some nutty American Christians sprayed gas into a mosque filled with kids. Some suspect this is connected with an anti-Muslim “documentary,” Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.

Consequences of Pulpit Sunday – As I mentioned in my blog 2 days ago, a group of religious organizations planned to preach from the pulpit to tell their parishioners who to vote for, deliberately violating the rules that afford them tax exempt status on Sunday. Americans United for Separation of Church and State is already filing complaints with the IRS.

Religious sentiment in New Zealand – A recent New Zealand survey suggests only 40% of the people believe in a god, and 10% do but have doubts. Only 52% believe in an immortal soul, and 80% accept evolution. Not surprisingly, this secular paradise is not the crime-ridden distopia theists would have you believe. Quite the opposite.

CREATIONIST NEWS:

Creationists are losing the battle in North Carolina! YEA! - I blogged about the creationist goings-on in North Carolina 2 weeks ago (here). Apparently the creationist Newspeak gambit isn’t working no matter how many times they insist:

Religion is Science

Science is Religion

Bill Gates funding the Discover Institute? – Et tu, Bill? As if there weren’t enough reasons to switch to a Mac.

CRANKS IN THE NEWS:

Mayor of Fort Mill, South Carolina sent a chain email around that said something to the effect of, The Bible says the anti-Christ would be a Muslim, Barack Obama is a Muslim, ergo, Barack Obama is the anti-Christ. Can’t argue with that bulletproof logic.

Christian Civic League of Maine blames Wall Street crash on gays – One would have thought the Jews would make better scapegoats for this one. But then again, who am I to tell the bigots how to do their bigotry?

“Our crisis is a symptom, not the cause,” writes Michael Heath. “I am not saying I know whether this financial crisis is God’s judgment or not. It is not for me to know that definitively.”

Hellmouth

Hellmouth

Conservative Christian reviewer calls Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe podcast the “Mouthpiece of Satan” – Apparently he’s under the impression that all they do is sit around mocking god-belief. Though oddly, having heard every episode, I somehow must have missed that one. Oh, and also he also believes that autism is a “disease” and is one of many “judgments from God.” He calls it, “liquid blasphemy” (I guess it’s liquid because vaccines contain liquid). Of the podcast, he says:

“There is nothing redeemable in this podcast. It’s a propaganda mouthpiece for Satan and his followers.”

AND IN ANTIVACCINATION NEWS:

Jenny McCarthy fires back at Amanda “My Future Wife” Peet - I dare you not to laugh when you read this quote by Jenny:

“(Peet) has a lot of [nerve] to come forward and be on that side, because there is an angry mob on my side, and I like the fact that I can say she’s completely wrong.” She added, “I look at (Peet) now and say to myself, ‘That was me before I had autism in my life,’ and until she walks in our shoes, she really has no idea.”

Wah! Wah! Also, the national autism advocacy group Autism United is calling for a boycott of all of Amanda Peet’s movies:

“Our community will not support the continued misinformation that is funneled into the media by organizations like ECBT and the American Academy of Pediatrics. We are not against vaccines, rather we are for safe vaccines. Until they understand that, we won’t back down.”

Flash forward to a month from now when they’ve backed down. The difference between McCarthy and antivaccinationists at Age of Autism is:

“There’s a big difference. One teaches. The other proselytizes. May Amanda never need our help.”

Oddly, I agree on both counts. Peet teaches while McCarthy proselytizes nonsense and it truly would be a tragedy if Peet ever needed these delusional fools’ help. But yeah, as everyone knows the pediatricianazis are next to traitors in the center of Hell. Damn you, you pediatrician!!! Stop protecting our children!!!

Also McCarthy apparently couldn’t understand why Barbara Walters didn’t believe that her son, Evan, had recovered from the currently uncurable autism until Jenny found some convoluted explanation for Walters’ skepticism.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT:

In Defense of Food – Here’s another blog recommending we stop listening to nutritionists and stupid fad diets and just eat rationally, citing the eating advice of one author who breaks it down to 7 words: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Though blogger Harriet Hall makes a slight alteration to this advice: Eat a variety of foods. Not too much. Mostly plants.

What does a scientific consensus mean?

The Times investigates alternative medicine in a series of articles – But apparently in the most recent article, the author doesn’t take into account Bayes’ Theorem, which states that the more implausible the hypothesis, the less likely that any numerical data can confirm it.

Phil Plait interviewed for Popular Science Magazine regarding Moon Hoaxers

EPIC FAIL!

Congratulations to PETA for making the Epic Fail 2 consecutive weeks in a row!! That’s quite an accomplishment – Okay, I found last week’s stunt nothing but mildly amusing. But this time it’s personal! Now they’re blaming the genetic disorder autism on milk consumption. Anyway, Orac delivers a crushing debunking of their ludicrous, repulsive propaganda taking advantage of the current hysteria surrounding the disorder.

WHAT’S THE HARM?

Homeopathic/herbal scam artist sentenced:

A Shelby County man who scammed thousands of hopeful customers worldwide with bogus health-remedies pleaded guilty Monday to computer fraud and agreed to forfeit cars, motorcycles, bank accounts and other property. . . “We have victims from virtually every continent and there allegedly are several thousand victims,” said Steve Crossnoe of the District Attorneys Office White Collar Crime Prosecution Unit. “People were not receiving what they thought they were receiving. The medical research was fictional. The doctors were fictional.”

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

Mass Extinctions And Evolution Of Dinosaurs – “Dinosaurs survived two mass extinctions and 50 million years before taking over the world and dominating ecosystems, according to new research published this week.”

New Dinosaur Had Bird-Like Breathing System – “The remains of a 30-foot-long predatory dinosaur discovered along the banks of Argentina’s Rio Colorado is helping to unravel how birds evolved their unusual breathing system.”

Mars Lander Sees Falling Snow On Red Planet – “NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander has detected snow falling from Martian clouds. Spacecraft soil experiments also have provided evidence of past interaction between minerals and liquid water, processes that occur on Earth.”

Second-hand Smoke May Hook Kids On Nicotine – “Parents who smoke cigarettes around their kids in cars and homes beware – second-hand smoke may trigger symptoms of nicotine dependence in children.”


News From Around The Blogosphere 9.21.08

September 22, 2008

Happy Autumnal Equinox everybody! – (It’s actually on Sept. 22th this year) You know what that means? Time to once again debunk that whole egg standing on end myth:

Salon Magazine article reviews Paul Offit’s new book and takes a baseball bat to the anti-vaccinationists – A rare case of the popular news media doing their job on this issue. Also I highly recommend listening to this week’s episode of The Skeptics Guide To The Universe podcast (40 minutes in) where the Guardian’s Ben Goldacre (whose legal victory against the evil quack Matthias Rath I’ve recently blogged about) talks more about the sordid history of the anti-vaccine movement.

THIS DAY IN GOD:

Yemeni girl who was married off at 8 is now divorced at 10 – Congratulations Nujood, and I hope you enjoy your return to the second grade!

Thixotropy – My favorite new word of the day:

“Thousands of Neapolitans crowded into the city’s cathedral on Friday to witness the miracle of Saint Gennaro — whose dried blood is said to liquefy twice a year, 17 centuries after his death.”

I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried . . . okay, maybe I could.

Why do we believe impossible things? -

“Wolpert argues that our wide range of beliefs, some of which are clearly false, grew out of a uniquely human trait. Alone in the animal world, humans understand cause and effect, and that, he says, led ultimately to the invention of tools, the rapid rise of sophisticated technology, and of course, beliefs. Even the earliest humans understood that many events that shaped their lives resulted from specific causes. Therefore, there must be a cause behind every event.”

Jesus is magic – A look inside the Fellowship of Christian Magicians. No, I’m serious. That’s what they actually call themselves.

How to make Fred Phelps & The Westboro Baptist Church go away – Don’t worry. It involves dressing up like a pirate:

“Yep, the cuckoo Phelps hate group walked the plank this morning after a happy bunch dressed like pirates and holding signs saying “God hates shrimp — Leviticus” and “God hates cotton-polyester blends” stood opposite them at the corner of Markham and Scott streets. The group, made up of Central Arkansas Pastafarians, waved swords and growled “Arrghh!” in a manner that would have made Abbie Hoffman proud.

With cars honking and waving at the pirates and a TV crew giving them all the attention, the Phelps group — with a child in tow, sadly — picked up their “fag” epithets and went away. Pitiful.”

What’s Jesus doing on the ceiling? – Hey Jesus, get down from there!

Roger Ebert gives creationism the thumbs up? – This smells of a hoax.

Is the banana man leaving the blogosphere for good? – I doubt it but it’d be a shame to lose him since he’s got to be an embarrassment even to other creationists. Ray Comfort preaches to the already converted and isn’t likely to convince anyone with his poor debating skills & his arrogant, distasteful schtick that involves bullying random people on the street by trying to humiliate them before a crowd to make himself look good:

ON SKEPTICISM:

Advice on how to avoid being a lonely skeptic

And an appropriate companion piece to this:

Are skeptics too combative?

ATHEIST DENIGRATION:

How are atheists like smokers?Rev. Keith Crosby from Green Bay, Wisconsin provides the answer to that question with the worst comparison you’ll hear all day:

“Atheists are like smokers. Smokers know that smoking is harmful and yet they smoke while consciously suppressing the fact that harm will come to them if they persist. Atheists act as if their feigned unbelief somehow grants them immunity from responsibility vis-à-vis what politicians in the Watergate era once called “plausible denial.” Plausible denial won’t work with God.

As the passage above indicates, they will concoct theories and create their own little gods and myths including things like earth worship or UFOs … anything to suppress the truth from which they run. They are not fooling God. That’s why atheists get so angry about “religion” and pursue dead ends like “freedom from religion.” They don’t like to be reminded of what is true and the consequences of their self-delusion.

If you are reading this and you are a professing atheist — stop suppressing the truth. Embrace the forgiveness and restoration God in Christ offers.”

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

Pinning Down The Milky Way’s Rotation – “New, very precise measurements have shown that the rotation of the Milky Way is simpler than previously thought. A remarkable result from the most successful ESO instrument HARPS, shows that a much debated, apparent ‘fall’ of neighbourhood Cepheid stars towards our Sun stems from an intrinsic property of the Cepheids themselves.”

Naphthalene Found In Interstellar Space – “A team of scientists led by researchers from the Instituto Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) has succeeded in identifying naphthalene, one of the most complex molecules yet discovered in the interstellar medium. The detection of this molecule suggests that a large number of the key components in prebiotic terrestrial chemistry could have been present in the interstellar matter from which the Solar System was formed.”


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