Monday, 2 July 2012

The Round-up w/e 01/07/2012

Sorry about the glitch in service last week people, I was all tied up. No it has nothing to do with the increasingly popular 50 Shades of Grey; I’m speaking pure metaphor here, honest. I’ll try to make it up to you with a lovely list of links for your consumption.

There are many arenas where superstition and fantasy pervade; one that doesn’t get covered much but is nonetheless fascinating is that of martial arts.

You might think that leaving or defying a church is as easy as getting up and walking out of a door, but that’s not the case, especially if you’re a Mormon. In fact in this other instance just getting up and walking was a problem. Here’s a bit of extra motivation to do just that though.

Apparently 2012 will see the end of evolution. No, it’s not stupid, they have evidence. However if you’re not convinced here’s a fascinating article on natural selection.

Andy Lewis over at the Quackometer is doing his usual excellent job in untangling the intricacies of the legislative mess the homeopaths are finding themselves in. And here is a bit more homeopathic nonsense that very much amused me. It’s a great example of pretend scientific gobbledygook.

Remember Paul the psychic octopus? Well it appears that all kinds of animals are being pressed into the service of sports predictive punditry. Think what you like about it, but not one of them ever used an earpiece.

We had a great skeptic social at the Old Contemptibles this week. I don’t remember anyone getting too drunk but if it ever happens this could be a useful reference.

Oh those cooky Canadian Catholic bishops and their anti-vaccination hi-jinks.

Got a birthday coming up? Be careful then.

Cern are making an announcement this Wednesday. We don’t know what they’re going to say but there’s been loads of speculation across the scientific and not so scientific press. I don’t want to get over-hyped and everything but it is just a teeny weeny bit exciting isn’t it? Let’s hope it’s not just a preview of Brian Cox’s new haircut.

We usually leave the affairs of celebrity couples to such outlets as Heat or Hello. But at the moment those sites are awash with stuff about scientology since the Tom and Katie split and it’s not good publicity for the heirs of Hubbard. Here’s an example and here’s another. Apologies for the non-skeptical take on these but I think it’s interesting when the wider world crosses into the skeptical sphere.

Alan Turing would now be in his hundredth year and plenty of people are happy to celebrate his remarkable life. At the same time there has been some doubts cast around the circumstances of his tragic and untimely death.

It’s very tempting to ignore the infighting that happens in parts of what I shall call, for want of a better term, the skeptical community. But it is happening and perhaps there are some useful lessons that can be learnt from it, although I’m failing to see any at this time. A lot of it comes down to opinion and personalities and they are so difficult to evaluate objectively that adding comment just adds another subjective log to the fire. Rather than giving you my two penneth I’ll point you to the blogs of some of those involved. The issues cover more people, tweets and more posts than these but you can do your own trackbacks if you’re interested and make your own conclusions. Try here, here, here and for good measure here to start.

Moving very swiftly on let’s find something to smile about, if only in a kind of headshaking and disbelief at the underhandedness of some people way. A great article here as it would appear that some phone-in psychics may not be what, or even who, they seem to be.

Interesting ruling in Cologne as religious circumcision is proscribed.

Now what we need is a huge historical hole to get excited about. You’d think we’d already have noticed a 100km wide crater but it’s just not that simple. And let’s stick with interesting craters, but this time a little further afield as astronomers continue their examinations and explorations of the red planet.

It is with great regret that we have to announce that the talk with Prof Alice Roberts in October is cancelled. She’s gone and double booked herself which happens with these incredibly busy and popular people. If you’re still keen to see her on that night and can travel there may be tickets still available for her talk here. If you want to wait though I’m sure that as soon as she can fix another time we’ll be having her at Brum Skeptics in the not so distant future.

This month we have two fantastic events for you. Firstly we have Newcastle Skeptics in the Pub organiser and all round good guy Danny Strickland asking “What are the 12 Steps?” No, it’s not the budget version of the John Buchan adventure, it’s a look at the relevance of the godly and spiritual element of the worldwide programme for giving up addiction, the best known of which is Alcoholics Anonymous. I’m personally very much looking forward to this one as it’s something I know very little about and that always makes for a good sitp.

Secondly we have our first ever Skeptics in the Pub Quiz on 19th of July. Don’t worry if you don’t have a team, just turn up and we’ll find you one. The questions will have a bit of a sciencey, skeptic and geeky bent and it should be a lot of fun.

I'll leave you with this too short video on the life and legacy of Alan Turing.

This week's round-up was compiled by Patrick Redmond (@paddyrex)

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