Wednesday 31 October 2012

Round-up w/e 28/10/12

Welcome to the Halloween edition of the Round-up. Even if most skeptics don’t believe in ghosts, vampires and werewolves the whole subject area is fascinating and the supernatural is one of the great topic areas for Skeptics in the Pub, we love talking about all that stuff. In fact if you want to Talk About Strange things then follow the link where Hayley Stevens has provided a great resource on the supernatural that also gives you a chance to contribute to the arena.

You probably remember that Hayley also has
Project Barnum looking at the world of psychic trickery. Well the psychic links have been piling up in my inbox this week. It’s the anniversary of Merseyside Skeptics Society’s original challenge to Psychic Sally. Again she didn’t pick up the gauntlet but two others did. You can hear our old friend Michael Marshall talking about it here.

Predictions are not just for the mystics amongst us, a scientific understanding of a phenomenon can help to predict some events. But sometimes the communication or understanding of that prediction breaks down with tragic results as with the
L’Aquila earthquake. Here’s Orac’s take on the same story and the plight of scientists caught between scientific process and public policy.

Some geeky stuff to play with and amuse ourselves now. Firstly your very own
orrery of both the Copernican and Tychonian systems. Moving out to the stars a wonderful zoomable stretch of the universe. And finally getting all elemental with the periodic table.

Edzard Ernst comes to the almost definitive conclusion that acupuncture is
almost certainly not effective for chronic pain. Over at Science Based  Medicine, Harriet Hall reviews The Medical War Against Chiropractors: The Untold Story from Persecution to Vindication. There’s no million dollar prize for predicting her thoughts on the subject.

Skeptic and atheist groups are not adverse to publicising their views in creative ways, remember the
atheist bus campaign amongst others? Christians can be just as original, sometimes scarily so. More Son of Chucky than Son of God I think.

There can’t be many of you out there that don’t realise the full unscientific futility of that practice that is homeopathy. But just in case you don’t or need a reminder, the Skeptical Raptor takes a look at the work of the Homeopaths without Borders.

If cows could photosynthesise.

There can’t be many people of my generation who didn’t bop around the dance floor to the strains of “Love will tear us apart again”. I still see people sporting the t-shirt of that iconic record cover but what’s the story behind that iconic and surprisingly astronomic image?

A brilliant piece of archaeological/anthropological investigative recreation with the walking moai.

Some suitably scary creatures now, with some freaky fishy fiends, a creepy cleoptera and a frog with big spikes. (I got bored of alliterating okay?)

In the run up to the big election there are questions that have to be answered. Have the Christian Right finally pushed God too far? Is Obama the Least Efficient Antichrist Ever?

Remember that old song? “You say potato, I say potato; you say tomato, I say tomato” Wait, that doesn’t work written down does it. Anyway let’s try the creationist version “ I say natural selection, you say design in action”.

Science and reason takes a step back in Pakistan.

If you’re the kind of person that sniggers at the name of the seventh planet from the sun, Flying Spahetti Monster alone knows what you’ll make of the penis worm and what it has to contribute to our understanding about evolution.

Remember how auction site eBay banned the sale of hocus pocus stuff. Well if you need to stock up on your occult goodies this is where the Magickals have gone.

Before the obligatory final video a few things to shamelessly plug. Our next speaker is Aarathi Prasad with her debut skeptics talk, should be another great night.  And if you can’t always make it to the speaker nights then you can get beautifully made DVDs of some our talks from here; keep coming back as we’ll be updating it whenever there’s a new one.

The final video is a trailer for a film that involves physicists, Cern and zombies. We’re hoping for a special early screening of the finished product with people involved at one of our socials, so keep an eye out for that!

This week’s round-up was put together by Patrick Redmond with huge contributions from Roy Beddowes.

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