Here, are a few quick snippits that I gathered from the Skeptic blogverse today. This is quite random, there are tons of fabulous skeptic blogs out there, so please don’t think of this as a definitive list of the best-of-the-best, because its not. The selection criteria is that its simply stuff that set off my “Oh thats interesting” detector as I randomly rambled about … so enjoy …
Pharyngula – PZ
My lukewarm support for this president is cooling fast. First he’s making absurd excuses to kowtow to the easily inflamed sensibilities of Islam, and now, apparently, he’s forgotten that this is a secular nation.
He also (quite rightly)blogs about the sad passing of George C Williams …
Williams was one of the giants of 20th century evolutionary biology, and he died on Wednesday. Michael Ruse offers a brief summary of his career, while Edge has personal testimonials from people who knew him. I never met him, to my regret, but knew his work, which was enormously influential.
And as for book burning … great take on it all here from Mr Crackergate himself …
You know, I’m something of an expert in the public desecration of sacred objects, and I’m seeing the same madness going on right now with Terry Jones and his plan to burn copies of the Koran that I saw in the response to throwing a cracker in the trash — only amplified to a ludicrous degree. People just aren’t getting it; they’re so blinded by an inappropriate attachment to magic relics that they’re missing the real issues.
I publicly destroyed a communion wafer once (OK, a few times). There was a simple reason for it: a few Catholics had responded hysterically to a student who didn’t swallow a wafer with harrassment and threats, and I was demonstrating that that was not acceptable — religious believers may not demand that non-believers grant the same reverence to their rituals and beliefs that they have. Jones’s motivation seems to be more of a fundie head-butt to Moslems while expecting a greater respect for his Bible, but he’s still right — Moslems cannot demand that Christians love their doctrines (and vice versa).
Bad Astronomy – Phil Plate
Some time ago, I caught wind of an idea I really liked: instead of our next space destination being the Moon (again) or Mars, we should go to a near-Earth asteroid.
I loved this idea. It has a lot of merit: a lot of these rocks pass us at relatively low speeds, making them easier to get to in terms of time and fuel. We know very little about them, and a manned mission will teach us a lot about them (as well as how to do long-term missions like this). And given that these objects can be a real threat, the more we know, the better.
Skepticblog – Brian Dunning
I just got back from Dragon*Con 2010 in Atlanta, had an amazing time, and came straight here to share my thoughts with you.
It is an interesting conference. Although 99% of it is a celebration of geek culture, fantasy, sci-fi, gaming, entertainment, comics, art, and just about anything else you can think of, its Skeptic Track (under the capable guidance of Skepticality’s Derek Colanduno) has grown to be one of the world’s largest critical thinking gatherings. Its differentiating factor is that outside the door of the 350-seat Skeptic Track room pass 70,000 other conference attendees, and it’s thus uniquely positioned for outreach. And outreach it did: Talks by James Randi and Adam Savage draw such large audiences that they are out in the main halls, where hundreds of non-skeptics hear them. Both discussed The Amazing Meeting and skepticism by name. Both probably piqued a lot of interest, if not converts, and probably put curious butts in the seats of the Skeptic Track room.
Bad Science – Ben Goldacre
This week the pope is in London. You will have your own views on the discrimination against women, the homophobia, and the international criminal conspiracy to cover up for mass child rape. My special interest is his role in the 2 million people who die of Aids each year.
In May 2005, shortly after taking office, the pope made his first pronouncement on Aids, and he took the opportunity to come out against condoms.
Ratzinger has proclaimed that “The most effective presence on the front in the battle against HIV/AIDS is in fact the Catholic Church and her institutions.” This is a ludicrous claim. They’re the only major influential international political organisation that actively tells people not to do something that works, on a huge scale. Their own figures show that their numbers are growing in Africa, even faster than the population does.
I don’t mind what anyone believes, I’m happy for you to suggest abstention. But sabotaging an effective intervention which prevents a disease that kills 2 million people a year makes you a serious global public health problem.
Blag Hag – Jen McCreight
This is a fun little website that analyzes the text of a blog. Here’s mine:
“blaghag.com is probably written by a female somewhere between 26-35 years old. The writing style is personal and happy most of the time.”
I wonder if this works well for other blogs?
- Is bypassing higher education smarter than paying for a degree? (From Chasmosaur.)
- South Florida psychic scammer sentenced to prison.
- A Dutch study of parents and teenagers reveals that when parents are more accepting of teens’ sexual relationships, they result in fewer teen pregnancies.
- Forensic homeopathologist offers police ‘alternative’ evidence and suspects. (From Benj5386.)
- Why conspiracy theories always win. (From cerebus40.)
- Since Jen is helming Cute Animal Friday this week, you’re going to get one of my favorites – newborn otter pups!
The Rogues Gallery – Bob Novella
With such a worldwide focus on energy that is NOT based on fossil fuels, it’s no surprise that breakthroughs in solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, hamster, and on and on seem to dominate the energy news. Most recently another source of energy seems to be having a resurgence, namely using thorium as a fuel source in nuclear reactors instead of uranium.
They’re calling it the nuclear fuel that will last for millenia, produce little waste, and can’t be proliferated into bombs.