Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The 120th Skeptics' Circle

Welcome to the 120th edition of the Skeptics' Circle, a blog carnival of the best (apolitical) skeptical writing in the blogsphere.

The Skeptics' Circle was first started by St. Nate back in February 2005, and is currently run by Orac, of Respectful Insolence. As you might have figured out, I am the host of this edition, where we have, as always, a quite good crop of skeptical related posts.

Before starting on those though, I thought I'd dwell a little on the first edition of the carnival. When preparing for this edition, I couldn't help wonder how much the skeptic blogsphere had changed since February 2005, which in internet time must be close to a century ago. So, I went back to the original carnival and looked at the contributors then. Apart from St. Nate, who was the host, there were 11 blogs involved in the first edition. Of these, 4 has moved to ScienceBlogs, 2 has closed, 1 has closed and reopened in a different location, 3 are inactive, while one is still going strong in the original location.

In other words, half of the original blogs are either closed or inactive.

This shows to me, the importance of getting new, strong, skeptical voices involved in the blogsphere all the time, be it people involved in fighting creationism/intelligent design, global warming denial, anti-vaccinationists, or some other type of pseudo- or anti-science. We need them all. So, if you come across new skeptical bloggers (or even ancient unknown ones), make sure to support their work, either by leaving comments, or by linking to their posts, and encourage them to participate in the Skeptics' Circle, either as contributors, or as hosts.

Now, enough preaching for the choir, let's get on to the contributions.

There are two types of contributions this time. One is skeptical posts, as we've known them from the first edition, the second is contributions that are reflecting on the skeptic movement in one way or another. The first two contributions are definitely of the latter type.

Greta Christina has written two posts about sex and race in the atheist/skeptical movements, or as she says "why these movements are so predominantly white and
male, what we can do about it... and why we should care."

The first of these two is Getting It Right Early: Why Atheists Need to Act Now on Gender and Race, and the second is Race, Gender, and Atheism, Part 2: What We Need To Do -- And Why

If you are a regular reader of my blog, I think you can guess that I stand in agreement with Greta Christina, and think this is very important for skepticism to look into these issues. Only by confronting our biases can we address them, and become more inclusive.

The second contributor is Greg Fish, who writes about a deadly serious subject - the scientific basis of evidence used in court: if it’s good in enough in court…. Recently, it was shown that it's possible to fake DNA evidence, so this subject is as important as ever.

Ever since the first edition, creationists have been the target of many contributions, and Runolfr takes them on in this edition: Creationist Cut-and-Paste

Another favorite target are homeopaths, one of which Michael Meadon takes on in Fun with a local homeopath.

Given the court setbacks that the creationists have encountered, I'd have to say that homeopaths are probably a greater danger to society than creationists, but I certainly enjoyed both take-downs.

Rogue Medic also addresses alternative "medicine", in this case in the form of acupuncture, taking offset in a comment left by an altie in an earlier blogpost of his. Eureka - Conventional Treatment Plus Placebo Beats Conventional Treatment Alone - comment from RavenBlack

Over at Happy Jihad's House of Pancakes, HJ tells the story of the way a family feels they were treated by the Ghost Hunters: "We're TAPS. We're here to help."

Another reflective post on skepticism, this time by Akusai over at Action Skeptics - he describes it as "Skepticism 101", and it is indeed a good introduction to skepticism. A Deeper Level of Criticism

cubiksrube explains Cargo cults

Bronze Dog has two, unrelated, submissions to this circle - the first one, What Makes Me Angry and Why, explains the anger that many of us skeptics feel when confronted with pseudo-/anti-science, while the other, Creationists and The Boy Who Cried 'Wolf!' is aimed at creationists who wants to be honest (do they exist?).

Chris Hallquist has submitted a book review on a food book which reveals the anti-science slant of the book: In Defense of Food Isn’t About Nutrition (a review)

And now for something I believe is a first. The next contributor is Dr. Flegg who has written about homeopathic practitioners who are moving into Africa in False profits over at ABC's unleashed. As far as I am aware, this is the first time a blogpost connected to the site of a major news channel has been part of the circle.

The next contributor submitted no less than three posts for this edition. Andrew Bernardin has submitted Another Myth on Aging Busted, The Questionable Human Propensity for Mental Illness, and Shameful Research on Shame. They are all fairly short and to the point, and while they are definitely worth reading, I must admit that I'd have loved if especially the last one had been longer and fleshed out a bit.

Over at Blue Genes, guest blogger Ben Vincent has written on AIDS denialism: When Pseudoscience Kills – Trust, Denialism, and Peter Duesberg.

I know that I shouldn't be surprised about where woo turns up, and I have heard about pet woo in the past, but even so, I can't help get surprised when I read about CAM in veterinarian medicine, which is exactly what SkeptVet wrote about in Woo U. — CAVM as Continuing Education for Veterinarians

The Skeptical Teacher has A Challenge to Skeptics: Pithy, Non-Offensive Sound Bytes in Response to Creationism?. He also informs us that Edmund (Pseudo)Scientific Sells “Ghost Detectors” & Other Woo and gives us Three Reasons Why the Large Hadron Collider Will NOT Destroy the Earth.

On Brow submitted a post which discuss the attempts by a philosopher to use scientific jargon and results to support a particular argument for the existence of God (Aquinas' Fifth Way). Scientific jargon does not support the Fifth Way.

If you've reached this far in the post, I guess Elyse was wrong when she wrote The End is Here!. No, not really - it's a post on the latest "end of the world" claim, which said that the world would end (or rather, the rapture would happen) on September 21st. The observant reader would note that this deadline has passed, with no notable rapture-related events occurring.

The final submissions are by Podblack Cat who not only wrote about Dragon*Con 2009 in Memorable Dragon*Con 2009, but which also posted three videos about the Skeptic track there - day one, day two, and day three.

The next edition of the Skeptics' Circle will be hosted at the Mad Skeptic on October 8th. Submissions can be sent to - if you have something you think will fit the circle, or if you come across something which you think might fit, please make sure to send them in.

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Blogger Bing said...

Thanks very much. Check out Podblack's video from the conference. It was a hoot. (I was in the background of one shot. See if you can find me. I'm the toad.)


September 24, 2009 7:07 PM  
Blogger Kaethe said...

I don't know if I ever mentioned it, but you lead me to all the skeptic bloggers I now read regularly. So, a belated thanks for that. Good job!

September 24, 2009 8:59 PM  
Blogger Kristjan Wager said...

You're welcome Kaethe. Always great when I can point other people towards great stuff

September 24, 2009 9:19 PM  
Blogger Gadfly said...

Well, I wasn't in the first SC, but I was by the fifth.

November 04, 2009 9:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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November 20, 2009 8:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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December 28, 2009 8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pretty interesting site you've got here. Thank you for it. I like such topics and anything connected to this matter. BTW, try to add some photos :).

January 21, 2010 8:25 PM  

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