Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Climbers find footprints of abominable snowman?

Posted in News by Skepdude on October 22, 2008

KATHMANDU (Reuters) – Japanese climbers returning from a mountain in western Nepal said Tuesday they had found footprints they think belonged to the abominable snowman or Yeti.

“We saw three footprints which looked like that of human beings,” Kuniaki Yagihara, a member of the Yeti Project Japan, said in Kathmandu, after returning from the mountain with photographs of the footprints.

The climbers, equipped with long-lens cameras, video cameras and telescopes, said, however that they did not see or take any photographs of the creature.

The Yeti is said to live in the Himalayan regions of Nepal and is largely regarded by the scientific community as a mythical creature.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT “REUTERS”

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Mande Barung Bunk

Posted in Neurologica by Skepdude on October 14, 2008

Dipu Marak is referred to by the BBC in multiple articles as a “passionate yeti believer.” Recently Marak’s passionate belief was put to the test, and he passed (or failed, depending upon your perspective) with flying colors.

The mande barung is the local name for an alleged ape-like creature believed to inhabit the Garo hills in Meghalaya, India. It is the “Bigfoot” of the region. Incidentally, the “Yeti” is the name for such a mythical creature in Nepal.

Why is Dipu Marak a passionate believer? He says:

“We have so many reports of sightings that I sincerely believe there is some sort of huge creature in the Garo hills.”

He is committing the common fallacy of either limiting the number of hypotheses he is willing to consider, or prematurely dismissing some. Specifically he is failing to consider that many eyewitness reports can simply be wrong. There are many historical examples that prove this principle.

My favorite example is “The Great American Airship Mania of 1896-97″ which Robert E. Bartholomew documented so well. At the time there was the widespread belief that we were on the verge of inventing airships (heavier than air flying machines) – and so people starting seeing them. Their descriptions fit the quaint image of an airship, not the designs that eventually worked and took to the air.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “NEUROLOGICA”

Skepnews – 08/20/08

Posted in Skepnews by Skepdude on August 20, 2008

  • Bigfoot hoax revealed – The body of a supposed ape-man found in the North Georgia mountains was an empty rubber monkey suit embedded in ice, according to California Bigfoot enthusiasts who got a chance to examine the find over the weekend. The two Atlanta men who stood up at a news conference in California on Friday and tried to convince the world they had found Bigfoot apparently can’t be located, just like the real Bigfoot. The answering machine on a “tip line” connected to the pair’s Web site, which advertises $499 Bigfoot “expeditions,” said they’re out searching for Sasquatch, in addition to leprechauns, dinosaurs, unicorns, Jimmy Hoffa and Elvis.
  • The Jewel of Medina pulled from bookstores in Serbia – A novel about the Prophet Muhammad was pulled from bookstores in Serbia to avoid conflict with the country’s Muslim minority, its Serbian publisher, Beobook, said Tuesday. The book, “The Jewel of Medina,” by Sherry Jones, an American journalist, describes the relationship between Muhammad and his wife Aisha.
  • Judge orders girl in sect back to foster care – SAN ANGELO, Tex. (AP) — A 14-year-old girl believed to have been married at age 12 to the jailed polygamist sect leader Warren S. Jeffs with her parents’ blessing was ordered back into foster care on Tuesday by a Texas judge. The judge, Barbara Walther of District Court, said that there was “uncontroverted evidence of the under-age marriage” and that the girl’s mother, Barbara Jessop, refused to guarantee the girl’s safety. The girl, shown kissing Mr. Jeffs in photographs submitted to the court, must immediately enter foster care, the judge ruled.
  • KC church close to $10M settlement for child abuse charges – The bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kansas City and St. Joseph says a tentative $10 million deal has been reached to settle 47 sexual abuse claims against a dozen clergy or former clergy. The deal will settle all current sexual abuse lawsuits pending in Jackson County against the diocese and its priests for incidents alleged to have occurred between 1951 and 1992.
  • Church sues HIV positive ex-member– A CHURCH in Kampala has sued a woman living with HIV/AIDS and a pastor for defamation. Last year, Frances Adroa and Pastor Solomon Male accused the Universal Church of The Kingdom of God of taking Adroa’s car with promises of healing her but her condition did not change. The church’s leaders, Gilson Costa and Gerald Nkayi, were not in court but their lawyer Deepa Verma Jivram said Adroa and Male caused publication of defamatory statements which injured the status and character of her clients.

Monsters, Ghosts and Gods: Why We Believe

Posted in LiveScience by Skepdude on August 19, 2008

Monsters are everywhere these days, and belief in them is as strong as ever. What’s harder to believe is why so many people buy into hazy evidence, shady schemes and downright false reports that perpetuate myths that often have just one ultimate truth: They put money in the pockets of their purveyors.

The bottom line, according to several interviews with people who study these things: People want to believe, and most simply can’t help it.

“Many people quite simply just want to believe,” said Brian Cronk, a professor of psychology at Missouri Western State University. “The human brain is always trying to determine why things happen, and when the reason is not clear, we tend to make up some pretty bizarre explanations.”

A related question: Does belief in the paranormal have anything to do with religious belief?

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “LIVESCIENCE”.

Skepnews – 8/15/08

Posted in Skepnews by Skepdude on August 15, 2008

  • Australian priest charged with sexual assault – The 65-year-old clergyman was arrested Thursday. He is accused of assaulting 18 boys between the ages of 11 and 17 during the 1970s and ’80s while he served as the priest at a church in Newcastle, 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of Sydney.
  • Yet another age reversing device, this one for your face What it claims to do: The manufacturer, Hanna Ibes, Inc., says the Flex-Away facial exerciser gives the face and neck muscles the “workout they need to stay fit and healthy.” It promises users will see their “down-turned lips become rounded and lifted, giving the entire face a younger appearance” and “lower cheeks appear hollower for a classic sculptured look. What the experts say: Dr. Anthony Youn, a Michigan-based, board-certified plastic surgeon and msnbc.com contributor, says I shouldn’t feel bad about that my Flex-Away didn’t revitalize my aging face. There’s never been a study that’s shown that flexing the muscles does anything,” he says.
  • Hunters claim to have found Bigfoot – Named Rickmat in honour of Rick Dyer and Matthew Whitton, Bigfoot hunters who claim to have bagged the 500lb ’corpse’ during an expedition in the US state of Georgia, it was being hailed today as potentially the “greatest discovery of the millennium” – by its finders, at least. Photographs of Rickmat lying crumpled and apparently decapitated in a chest freezer drew so many visitors to one website today that it crashed under the pressure. But Dyer and Whitton’s own website – bigfoottracker.com – appeared well prepared for the onslaught, advertising opportunities for the public to take guided tours in the footsteps of Rickmat for $499 a time, and selling T-Shirts declaring: “Bigfoot for President.” “We have located a family of Bigfoot and besides the clear photo and video we have something even more shocking, A BODY. Please bear with us at this time. We have hired legal help. History is in the making,” they stated on their site. Ben Radford, managing editor for Skeptical Inquirer magazine, said: “It’s smelling to high heaven like a hoax.”
  • Judge led prayer in court – An Alabama judge who once wore the Ten Commandments embroidered on his robe has been accused of violating judicial ethics for ordering a group in his courtroom to hold hands and pray. The ACLU complaint said McKathan dropped to his knees and prayed aloud during a court hearing in February. He told the 100 people in the courtroom that he was not afraid to call on the name of Jesus Christ, witnesses said, and ordered all to join hands and pray, according to the complaint filed soon after the hearing. In response to the complaint, McKathan told the Mobile Press-Register for a story Thursday: “Whatever comes of all that, I’ll continue to have peace.” Quoting Romans in the King James version of the Bible, the judge added: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose.”