Wednesday 18 April 2012

Round-Up, Week 16, 2012

Welcome again to the Birmingham Skeptics in the Pub Weekly Round-up. Yes, we’re back, and considering it’s been around six weeks since our last Round-up this is more of a re-launch rather than an over-the-weekend resurrection. This week we have a truck load of interesting items for your skeptical pleasure; from apparel to bedding, to books, films and music; pseudo-science to info-graphics; bogus science to desperate remedies.

Let’s unpack the first of our items:

An unscientific survey conducted by The Telegraph showed that almost half of the people polled know the basic details of the Easter story and that, according to one punter, Birmingham Heavy Metal gods, Judas Priest, betrayed Jesus.

The Eternal Earth-Bound Pets service, which offered atheist care for the pets of people who were expecting to be raptured, has been revealed as a hoax: Atheist Camel comes clean.

Another Dawkins debate, another repeat of the distraction mantra - Hitler was an atheist, Hitler was an atheist, Hitler was...oh!

For those fascinated by the Bodies Revealed Exhibition at Digbeth’s Custard Factory a couple of years ago, the team behind Gunther von Hagens’ famous Body Worlds shows premiers Animals Inside Out  at The Natural History Museum.

You would be forgiven for thinking that this was some kind of nouvelle cuisine dish rather than a new micro-device to gain insights in to intestinal disorders: gut on a chip.

Atheists have soles , and they’re made in Berlin.  Walk a mile in my shoes…

From the New Yorker, a long but interesting read on how the Daily Mail conquered Britain.

As part of the Ignite London Event, filmmaker Michael W Story works out some professional frustration in this deconstruction of the UK documentary world all within a fixed five minute/20 PowerPoint slides format: London's 66,000 guns.

Second of the Michael W Story pieces (and currently a hot topic on the Sitp blog) is a short but to the point article on how islamophobia blinds us to terror elsewhere. Click through for the Hand of History Twitter feed.

Heart disease drug combats racism: Volunteers given the beta-blocker Propranolol, used to treat chest pains and lower heart rates, scored lower on a standard psychological test of "implicit" racist attitudes.

Despite new transparency rules, a study has found that just as many of the authors of the new psychiatry "bible" are tied to the drugs industry as those who worked on the previous version.

Christian claims of persecution fall flat on their face according to Terry Sanderson at The National Secular Society , also here at the Guardian. In addition, Andrew Copson of The British Humanist Association discusses crosses in the workplace on BBC News.

You won’t find these at Dunelm: Hadron Quilts & Turin Bedding.

Infographics – excellent! Peter Kim and his team sent us this outstanding graphic on the life and work of Stephen Hawking, and we loved it. Here are a couple more that blew us away: Rhetological fallacies, and the superbly interactive Snake oil supplements; click the bubbles to see the key studies and evidence of effectiveness.

Having recently watched the Brum Sitp produced Andy McIntosh DVD, I was reminded of this 2004 nerdcore hip-hop gem from MC Hawking. Can we look forward to an MC Hawking vs. MC MacIntosh rap battle? You down with en-tro-py? Stay tuned. *sweary lyric alert*

This one goes out to Tulpesh: There is grandeur in this view of life…Here’s Baba Brinkman’s new video Darwin's Acid from The Rap Guide to Evolution series.

Billionaire space enthusiast and entrepreneur Jeff Bezos, founder of, has announced an audacious plan to retrieve the five massive rocket engines used to launch NASA's historic Apollo 11 mission to land the first men on the moon in 1969. 

This week’s pareidolia item and, thankfully, it’s not another Jesus banana: A lava flow in Elysium Planitia - Elephant on Mars.

In this entertaining article, whilst touring the Great Wall of China, Dr Terry Simpson (Physician and Surgeon), gets hijacked by the Ancient Chinese Medicine Institute. Watch out for that duck on the way out Terry.

Over at Physics World they explain the perfect storm of circumstances, an event cascade, which resulted in the sinking of The Titanic, while those clever folks over at xkcd have released this helpful single pane cartoon that illustrates the depth of lakes and oceans.

Indian skeptic Sanal Edamaraku is threatened with blasphemy after revealing that a weeping cross was the result of capillary action.

Expanding on previous research providing proof-of-principal that human stem cells can be genetically engineered into HIV-fighting cells; a team of UCLA researchers have now demonstrated that these cells can actually attack HIV-infected cells in a living organism.

Got a traffic ticket for running a stop sign? Use physics to avoid paying the fine (with a flaw in the argument).

Exciting Chinese Medicine news from News Biscuit: Chinese Medics hail world’s first lab grown tiger's penis.

Refusing to compile ten point listings, Sam Greenspan from 11 Points website reviews Science 4 for Christian Schools: Eleven eye-opening Points from a Creation Science Textbook.

New scientific research raises the possibility that advanced versions of T. Rex and other dinosaurs may be the life forms that evolved on other planets in the universe.  From the ACS News Service Weekly: Could advanced dinosaurs rule other planets?

Jon Wilkins’ Darwin Eats Cake web comic has been around for about a year now. Here’s A Civil Engineering Exam on the Reinforcement of Existing Bridges and Curve of Knowledge and Wonderment to get you started.

Finally bringing this week’s Round-up items to a close, and if you hadn’t already noticed, it’s Homeopathy awareness week. Extracted from Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial, Simon Singh explains how Homeopathy harms. Need more magic water nonsense? CAMwatch has buckets of it.

Just to remind you that we’ll be drinking skeptically at The Old Contemptibles on the 24th April, Robin Ince will be joining us for our May talk (hope you’ve got your ticket as we’re now sold out) and there’s a choice of entertainment in June; for £24.50 you could see Psychic Sally at the Alex, or join us next door at the Vic for The Mathematics of Juggling. on the 13th, where Colin Wright will also be plucking balls out of thin air; entrance fee – a paltry £3 donation.

Rounding up then with the usual movie or three: How to see around corners; Placebo effect & Fix your PC with a crystal pendulum.

This week’s Round-up was compiled by SitP regular Roy Beddowes.

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