Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Ask and you shall receive

Posted in Humorous, Video by Skepdude on October 23, 2008

Hat tip to PodBlack Cat.

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Johann Hari: Dare we stand up for Muslim women?

Posted in News by Skepdude on October 23, 2008

It’s the smell I remember. Shahnaz’s face – what was left of it – reeked of a day-old barbecue, left out in the rain. Her flesh was a mess of charred meat: her skin, the soft flesh of her cheeks, and the bones beneath had been burned away. Her nose was gone. Her lips hung down over her chin like melted wax. Her left eyelid couldn’t close, so it watered all the time in an endless stream of tears. Shahnaz – who was 21 years old – had been punished by having acid thrown in her face. Her crime was to be a Muslim woman who wanted to be treated as equal to a man.

Shahnaz loved education – especially science and poetry. But when she got married – at the insistence of her family – her husband ordered her to stop schooling and start breeding. “You are a woman, that is your only job,” he said. But she refused. She wanted to work for herself and enrich her mind. So she kept going to school, despite his beatings and ragings and threats. So one day her husband and his brothers carefully gathered up battery acid, pinned her down and hurled it into her face.

She ended up in the Acid Survivors’ Foundation in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where I saw her earlier this year. In Bangladesh, acid attacks on “uppity” women are an epidemic, peaking in 2002 with more than 500 women having their faces burned off. Fewer than 10 per cent of the attackers are ever convicted because juries and judges say the women bring it on themselves by wearing “revealing” clothes, or refusing to obey men.


The sum of good intentions

Posted in Andrea's Buzzing About by Skepdude on October 23, 2008

Feel free to insert the more familiar or acceptable word of your choice.  But regardless of your word choice, the equation stands:

Good Intentions plus Bullshit still equals Bullshit

It doesn’t matter if you are a parent earnestly trying to help your child improve lagging developmental skills — if the information you are disseminating to newbies or news agencies is based upon bogus treatments and world-wide conspiracy theories, then the information you are giving others is still bullshit. (Example: vaccines cause autism and/or dozens of unproven “cures” for all sorts of developmental/educational difficulties.)

It doesn’t matter if you are an elected official trying to get funding for projects that could potentially improve the local economy — if your cherry-picked “experts” assert that there are no ecological problems, but the overwhelming majority of experts from agencies around the world say there will be serious consequences, then your assertions are still bullshit.  (Example: Sarah Palin on global warming, oil pipelines, and polar bears.)


Reports of the Demise of Materialism Are Premature

Posted in Neurologica by Skepdude on October 23, 2008

The New Scientist has recently discovered what readers of this blog have known for a while – that the denial of materialist neuroscience is the “new creationism.”  In fact I have written extensively over the past year about the embrace by the Discovery Institute (an intelligent design group) of cartesian dualism, the notion that the mind is a different substance from the brain. The primary proponent of this argument for the DI (and a frequent foil of my blog entries) is Michael Egnor, a creationist neurosurgeon. But the New Scientist article correctly points out that this is actually part of a larger movement and a larger strategy.

The Wedge Strategy

This current attack on neuroscience has the same underlying roots as the ID attack on evolution – the real enemy for ID proponents is materialism. The infamous Wedge document makes this clear in its opening paragraphs:

The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization was built. Its influence can be detected in most, if not all, of the West’s greatest achievements, including representative democracy, human rights, free enterprise, and progress in the arts and sciences.


UFOlogists besmirch Sagan, then Galileo

Posted in Bad Astronomy by Skepdude on October 23, 2008

A. J. Gevaerd, the editor of “Brazilian UFO Magazine” is what I would charitably call a crank. He once interviewed a guy in his magazine who claimed that Jesus is tied up in the UFO phenomenon — of course! — along with other things that would make my head all asplodey to write about.

A few months ago, he wanted to start a new research center to study UFOs, called the Carl Sagan Institute.

Now, I will give you a moment to make comical head-shaking noises and wipe your ears out with your fingers. Yes, he wanted to name his pseudoscientific center after Carl Sagan, one of the leading and most vocal critics of the UFO phenomenon.

Now, you might say to yourself, “Maybe Gevaerd will be critical and apply Sagan’s skepticism to the study of UFOs.” Hope springs eternal! But then there is the inevitable fall, you realize, remembering that whole Jesus-returning-in-a-UFO thing above. Yeah. Oh, and in Gevaerd’s own words:

Many think that Sagan passed away without knowing the result of his search … But that is far from the truth. Sagan had a close relationship with north-american governmental agencies dedicated to the UFO phenomenon investigation, and even Joseph Allen Hynek, considered the father of Modern Ufology, guaranteed that Sagan had a profound knowledge about the alien presence on Earth.


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