Sunday, 15 January 2012

Weekly Round-Up w/e 15/1/12


Welcome to this week’s round up and well, would you take a look at us? We’ve broken through the 300 mark of people who ‘like’ us on Facebook and we’re pretty darn pleased with ourselves, however, there’ll be none of that dining in hell stuff for us tonight – no, sir. If you’d like to meet up for drinks though, have some interesting chat with some friendly people, share your views on the latest speaker maybe, then you could always come along to our next Brum Skeptics Social at the Square Peg, Corporation St. on January 24th at 7.00pm – loin cloths and daggers are, of course, optional.

Failing that, meander over to our usual Victoria venue on 8th Feb where our next speaker, Alice Sheppard, will be taking us through some of the best and worst of Astronomical history. We’ll also be looking into citizen science and Galaxy Zoo with When the Universe Came to the People.

Stamping rampantly into the first of our Round-up articles:
a group of geologists at Oxford University have baked a geological time-spiral cake replete with marzipan beasties. I’ll have two slices of KT Boundary with Ammonite topping – to go. (At Sitp we love cake)

Naturally, too much of the sweet stuff isn’t good for you, fortunately, there’s a new diet guru in town; Mary Ascension Saulnier- the Fat Whisperer. “I listen to what emotion is in the cell membrane, then I talk to it,” Saulnier says. “I tell the cell which way to move out of the body.” For those without the Mary’s skill set (ahem), here are the actual directions - Fat Nav if you like.

Respecting respectful insolence: Following up on the Andrew Wakefield sues BMJ story, Orac gets amused by Brian Deer along the way.

News from the British Humanist Association: The government's recent revisions to the "model funding agreement" for free schools mean that it would not be possible to establish a school that would teach creationism and Intelligent Design as Science ; Creationists not happy. Stop sniggering at the back...

A couple of interesting stories have turned up from India this week, one serious, and the other, well, preposterous:-

  • People in several parts of Uttar Pradesh spent a sleepless night on Monday and police remained on high alert as a rumour that those who slept would turn into stone spread like wildfire. Think that’s weird? A group from Birmingham have been turning to stone for years - for you not coming home! YOU!

  • Worrying news: Suggesting that inappropriate treatment at private clinics is to blame, a hospital in Pindu has detected four people with totally drug resistant tuberculosis, the first such cases in the country since November last year. 

From China Press: Not all dragon babies are successful in life and children born on certain dates are prone to autism according to Feng Shui and Geomancy master Prof David Koh.

According to the UK popular press, new figures showed that the use of anti-depressants and sleeping pills is soaring. Neuroskeptic has a look at the data and suggests a rewording of the headline is in order.

From The Globe and Mail: We now have the potential to banish the genes that kill us, that make us susceptible to cancer, heart disease, depression, addictions and obesity, and to select those that may make us healthier, stronger, more intelligent. The question is, should we?

Picking up on a point in our most recent Podcast with Becs O' Neill and the how to describe Skepticism question; Austin Cline's Blog has this interesting article that I’d like to add to the mix, Connecting Skepticism and Atheism: Atheists Should Practice Skepticism Broadly. It’s at this point I feel like the Tubular Bells Master of Ceremonies - Patrick on slightly shrill tin whistle (at 1:15)

Qualia Soup’s videos have for a long time been some of my most watched and favourite YouTube content. Have a look at Open-mindedness and CriticalThinking by way of an introduction.

From Edzard Ernst at The Guardian: A 'college' founded last year appears to be a smokescreen behind which alternative medicines can hide. Looks like reincarnated Royal woo from where I’m sitting.

You remember Peter Harrison’s excellent talk on The Science of Lucid Dreaming way back in September? Of course you do. Apparently anyone can learn to have lucid dreams, and this e-book tells you how, courtesy of Mind Hacks. The book is on a pay what you want basis, and is Creative Commons licensed so you can copy it and share it as you will.

Book your adventure holidays here:

  • Reactor Park: Oohh, Aahh, that's how all of this starts, but then later there's the running and screaming” – and puking.


Whoever did this - you just made my day. (Wipes away tear of gratitude). Our posturing’s, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, etc., etc.

Over the fence, through the tunnels and pipes; now this is Rocket Science.

Some unusual articles from the natural world:-



Something to think about: There are three common Irish names, McEntaggart, McAnespie and McNab that translate as 'son of the priest', 'son of the Bishop' and 'son of the Abbot'.

For the intelligent drinker: You may have sampled the award winning ales served at The Victoria such as Butty Bach and Mad Goose , however, if you’re feeling a bit mischievous, here are a range of beverages to bring out for when your Creationist cousins come to visit.

Treatment for neck pain: Filling a void in the scientific literature of what the most helpful treatments are, a research professor at North-Western Health Sciences University in Minnesota has found that light home exercises were about as effective as chiropractic sessions. Today’s score: Physical Therapists 1, Spine Wizards 0.

Inspired by the 2009 bicentenary of Darwin's birth, a group of scientists and sailors decided to create a replica of HMS Beagle that would serve as a 21st century icon to inspire a new generation to engage with science.

From Aljazeera: People & Power go undercover to investigate the alternative therapy clinics in Mexico offering cancer patients little but false hope.

Looking a tad like the Blockbusters game board from the 1980’s TV Show: Interactive timeline of 2011 - The science year in brief.

Right, that’s almost it then for this week’s blog, just a plug to finish off with then a movie.

If you attended the talk with Andy McIntosh on Wednesday and have something you’d like to offer then please let us have your feedback at this response page set up strictly for this subject. Or, if you wanted to attend but couldn’t, you’ve now only got a short while to wait for the video, which is being edited as we speak, to then give us your impressions.

Finally, 2 videos; the first one quite appropriate as we’re a ‘in the pub’ group: Guinness "Evolution", followed by a group of crazy Fins who go fishing under the ice in Lake Saarij√§rvi in Vaala, Finland.


This week’s round-up was compiled by Sitp regular Roy Beddowes.

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