Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The 24th Skeptics Circle is here!

Welcome to the happy non-denominatonal sometimes religiously significant festivus holiday celebration for the 24th skeptics circle! While everyone else would normally have to wait until the 25th we in the skeptical community get some early presents: excellent skeptical blogging from across the skeptical community!

So let’s start opening up the early presents and get right into things, first we start with some light hearted fun with a bio-Christmas carol from the science creative quarterly. Following this up is asking the ever important question; can science determine if there really is a Santa?

Presents on the nature of skepticism are the next on the agenda. First, the good folks from Real Climate bring us an article discussing how to be a real skeptic. Daniel Morgan brings us a similar themed article where a man shows an unusual skeptical double standard in a museum in the master painter. Finally, the Uncredible Hallaq describes what good science looks like. This is definitely shaping up to be a great collection of presents!

For the next set of presents to unwrap, we’ll go to the syringe shaped package wrapped in tin foil. What could this be I wonder? Oh, it’s some anti-vaccination crankery from Bill Maher! I think we’ll hand this one to Orac and Skeptico to handle in their gifts, Bill Maher anti-vax wingnut and Drinking the anti-vax cool-aid respectively. I do so love the gift of a good logical smack down at designated holiday periods, don’t you?

What’s next I wonder, hmmm, what about this big box over here, must be something good in that for such a big box! Hmmm, but funnily enough it doesn’t make a sound when shook what could be inside and it’s pretty light too.


Oh let’s just open it! Aha, as I suspected, it’s just an empty box with nothing in it and must be the present the Creationists and Intelligent Designer proponents sent us God – oops I mean the unnamed unidentified intelligent designer bless them. Numerous gifts refuting this lot, beginning with Daniel Morgan trouncing the ID spin over the Sternberg Affair in the Sternberg saga continues. Following that, the Socratic Gadfly discusses the problems with biblical literalism in Ezra meet Snopes. Bora at Science and Politics brings us a gift imported all the way from Serbia, namely a translation of an article written by a Serbian immunologist asking where the anti-science lunacy in America comes from.

Continuing with the creationism and ID themed presents, which are always good presents to receive, we have the Pithing Contest explaining there is something fishy about fish eyes. Pooflingers demonstrates the gift of patience by suffering through more creationist nonsense to bring us crunch squared volume 4. Dump Bachmann finishes up the creationist themed presents this year with Micheles pal and donor Phyllis describing the crouching senator, hidden creationist (good movie that, I have it on DVD).

Time to look at some other presents I feel after all that creationism, so ahhh, what’s this I spy? Some more quack medical presents including A Himalayan salt crystal lamp? I seem to recall the Saga of Runolfr describing if a Himalayan salt crystal lamp actually worked or not. Speaking of Quack medical claims, Kevin Leitch sent us this present discussing a fertile breeding ground that alties find in making up causes for autism. Speaking of various alties, the second sight describes the placebo affect as a real alternative, however much it is maligned by those pushing alternative medicines. Finally, as a special present from myself I've written an article clearing up confusion about the hygiene hypothesis, which has occasionally been distorted by those who push alternative medicine to 'support' their cause.

Starting to run out of presents now, only a few more left and then all the presents will have been opened. This next present comes courtesy of the conspiracy theorists who claim man never landed on the moon, a hospital report for being punched in the face? What an odd present. Maybe the Bad Astronomer would know more about that, as he decided to go head to head on a radio program and describes his experience of taking the quacks on word to word (literally) in mooning St. Louis and the follow up, mooning St. Louis denouement. Congratulations to him as well, because I know from experience how difficult it can be to engage cranks in an oral debate where it’s harder to cover all the needed evidence.

This present is one that, with my specialty in microbiology and immunology I wished didn’t exist, but the HIV doesn’t cause AIDS wingnuts have sent something our way yet again. Personally, it’s the equivalent of the lump of coal in the stocking for me, but thankfully, Orac is on the case for the debunking sending some of his own gifts with one last thought about the Al-Bayati report and describing how ABC handled the Eliza scovill case on primetime. Hopefully I’ll be less naughty next year so I won’t attract the lump of coal again.

Finally, we’ll end the circle with the ultimate present, the theory of everything. Well, maybe not the theory of everything but something that claims to be the theory of everything, which Rock Star Ramblings has a look at with alert scientists we now have a theory of everything. I guess it really wasn’t quite the theory that it was claimed to be, oh well.

And with the last of the presents opened it’s time to say goodbye and happy holidays. I hope you have a stress free holiday period and that there are lots more interesting presents under the Christmas tree for you. The next Skeptics circle will be hosted by Ted of The Saga of Runolfr on the 4th of January to kick off the new year.

Thanks again for all of the submissions and keep the circle going by keeping up with the cranks by producing more skeptical blogging! Comments should ideally be left on their respective articles :)