Thursday, August 31, 2006

42nd Skeptics Circle

Welcome to the 42nd meeting of the skeptics circle. Many of you have wondered where I have been over the past months and what has exactly been going on down in the lowest part of the world. Well my excuse is that, uhhhh, hmmmm...Ah yes, we've been invaded by the undead [of course, why didn't I think of this before]. Oh yes, they are everywhere down here I assure you and we're knee deep in them. Billions of them. Here is an example picture:

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See what I mean? Absolutely crawling with the undead [they are there I assure you, they are just camera shy]. Can't cross the street without having to dodge numerous zombies all after your brains. What's worse is they are all into various forms of pseudoscience, woo and quackery. Perhaps it might all be the result of dumping too much nuclear waste into the rivers and I assure you, we'll be returning to the subject of nuclear waste later in the circle. Everything ultimately is blamed on nuclear waste eventually anyway. First it's poisoning the water, then ruining the air quality, then making people sick and eventually raising the living dead. You know how it goes.

So it's a good thing you've all turned up so we can try and set them straight with some good old fashioned skepticism to the head. I've personally always liked the sledgehammer of science myself, but the lawn mower of anti-woo has its own appeal [even if it's very messy] and there is always the shotgun of reason. Whatever your weapon of choice, there are many ways of dispatching crazy pseudoscientific zombies, but the problem with the living dead and I'm sure you can appreciate the many problems we are facing, is that they keep coming back regardless. Reminds me of arguing with creationists, no matter how many times you dispatch their arguments there are always more of them and the old ones come back anyway [tis quite the problem with the unliving dead, you can't kill them you see, because they are already dead. Haha, see the dilemma?].

Currently the creationists have been shacking up with a really good friend of theirs: the dreaded Hitler zombie. While not hanging out in my pool (making it all mucky) and shouting incomprehensible things at people he doesn't like, the Hitler zombie often enjoys eating the brains of people making ridiculous comparisons between evolution, himself, NAZIdom and various other aspects of the third Reich. Thankfully, Scientia natura tackles some of the ridiculous arguments creationists make on this topic in evolution, Darwin and Hitler. When they aren't trying to compare evolution with Hitler, creationists resort to other ridiculous arguments instead as Tara Smith from Aetiology covers in Influenza viruses = evidence for design. Those whacky ID creationists, what won't they claim? Finally, the Pandas Thumb has a lovely series covering the latest collection of ridiculous claims in Johnathan Wells' new book. I don't recommend buying the book and instead just reading the rebuttal. Your sanity will thank me for it later. If you ask me, I'd rather face the zombies than deal with creationists nonsense.

Staying on the science front in this circle, Jonswift has another piece of wonderful satire covering how science is undead-errr how science is dead. Haha. *Ahem*. Sorry about that, couldn't resist a little zombie themed humour there. Carrying on, Divided we Stand, United we Fall takes on some of the bizarre claims that Anne Coulter has made about global warming researchers (among other thing). Personally, I keep a copy of her book around with me at all times as zombies won't attack you when they see it. Seems to fool them into thinking you're one of them, which is very handy for popping down to the dairy for a few moments without harassment.

Speaking of taking creationists to task, the Pooflinger writes about the stupidity inherent in having to consider 'both sides' in back of the book. Rockstars' ramblings also comments on the fallacy of using 'both sides' to justify anti-evolution nonsense. Finally, speaking of math, the Bad Astronomer also has a public service announcement, reminding us in the skeptical community that it's always healthy to correct your own mistakes. Especially when they are mathematical.

Moving along from the creationists, remember earlier on how I mentioned that Nuclear Waste? Well, it turns out there is a great solution for that and it's even sponsored by a celebrity! Yes, I'm talking about using Kabbalah Water to clean up nuclear waste and Madonna apparently really likes the idea. Thankfully, some of our contributors have decided to wham some sense into this undead beast, with Skeptico commenting that Madonna solves nuclear waste problem. If that wasn't enough, Humbugonline also tackles the issue in Mad Madonna the Comedian. I wonder if that water works on zombies- or was it holy water that was supposed to be effective against the undead?

The subject of this circle now turns onto the ever fun topic area of medical woo, pseudoscience and just plain crazy. Firstly, we'll begin with the Beaver examiner noting that South Africa donates $100-million towards garlic research. This should show those normal 'HIV priests' that clovology should be taken seriously as garlic research is seriously important for numerous reasons. Take it from me, when you're knee deep in zombies then come the vampires. What's good on vampires? That's right, Vampires. South Africa will be making a good investment in anti-vampire technology for the future. Speaking of Garlic, scientia natura also recognise how powerful it can be in a quack healers deception.

Orac from Respectful Insolence brings us some more skeptical blogging to do with medical woo in two cases, firstly the pause that refreshes and heals. I always wondered why people told me yellow snow was bad for you. He also brings us a look at Abraham Cherrix, a child whose parents are attempting to avoid conventional treatments so they can use nutty altie ones in starchild Abraham Cherrix: It's over. Unfortunately, when it comes to mistakes that occur with normal conventional treatments and alties, things never work out as Bronze Dog explains.

Carrying onto our final skeptical topics for tonight, a guest post by Mum to Laura on Autism Street wonders what people would think of a "blindness spectrum". EoR, over at the second sight wonders at the tactics some crazies will go to try and sell their books to the gullible in Jesus is real - Oh, and buy my book! PS: You should buy my upcoming book as well: How to defend yourself from a zombie attack with nothing but a spoon, a wire and some table salt. Speaking of somewhat strange things people propose, Socratic Gadfly covers the use of regaining your 'inner child' to treat abuse cases in some thoughts on child abuse recovery counseling, AA, PTSD and related matters. Finally, the Saga of Runolf wonders just what happened to animal planet in the great animal planet disappointment.

Also, before we all leave satisfied in a skeptical driven zombie genocide well done, let us all bear tribute to Douglas Adams who has long since ceased to be with us. Nothing with the number '42' in it can go without at least mentioning him. He was a really great writer and he will always be missed. So that's all for the circle this week and most importantly, thanks to all those who submitted articles. I do hope you've enjoyed this entertaining romp around skeptical thinking and be prepared for the next circle, which will be hosted by Janet D. Stemwedel at Adventures in Ethics and Science. Anyway, it's time for me to go and- wait, what's that sound at the door? Moaning? Hungry moaning? Scratching? Cracking... Oh no...they've breached the defences! There are hundreds of them, they're in the room and oh dear Go[.sd.assd.zhjai

[Disclaimer: Yes, somewhere along the line I have gone completely and utterly mad. MUAHAHHAHAHAHAHA]