Wednesday 6 March 2013

The Weekly Round-up Week 10

Picture of Judy Garland from the Wizard of Oz
What a time we had on Wednesday as we welcomed the roaring tormentor of Scientology, Mr John Sweeney , to Birmingham Sitp. We had shouting , faux celebrities ranting, disco dancing , more shouting, then more dancing. And singing! (Was there singing? I just can’t remember); all ably assisted by a crowd more than happy to participate in John’s presentation of Scientology: The Church of Fear. It was exhausting, sometimes sinister, but mostly seriously crazy. No DVD for this one so, if YOU WERE NOT THERE you missed out on one of the most unusual and loud talks we’ve ever hosted.  Check out our Facebook page for a collection of book signing bollockings from John. Stress test after all that anyone?

Not letting the Scientology theme go just yet, as news just in is that archaeological evidence and a 75million year old documentary showing an intergalactic space battle between Xenu and The Thetans has emerged.

More moving and grooving here as, during a recording of Startalk, Neil De Grasse Tyson is captured showing Buzz Aldrin some of his own moon-walking moves, “Is this what it was like there?” What a dude!

A Physicist cum Social Scientist at North-eastern University in Boston has devised an algorithm which can look at someone’s mobile-phone records and predict with an average of 93% accuracy where that person is at any moment of any day. Still feeling special?

Gone are the days of burning bush miracles and tip-toeing in ponds. The best we get nowadays is the occasional fly-by bird shit blessings as evidence that the lord is near. Some folks are easily pleased. Hmm, another Christ - or is it a Chris?

Transgenic lambs and greyhound respirators: In an extreme extrapolation of the idea of assistance animals, if the technology were available, would you be willing to use an animal as a respirator or dialysis machine? I’d opt for wombat assistance as they’re lethargic but also cheery looking little chaps, amongst other quirky attributes.

Just the mention of lambs reminds me that spring is on the way which also means weddings galore. So how’s this for a marriage proposal? If you liked it, then you shoulda put a physics paper on it! Or how about “If you're having girl problems I feel bad for you son”. I got 99 problems but a baphomet ain’t one.

Are unproven treatments such as acupuncture, homeopathy or others not working for you? Healing with music could be your thang. I fully endorse this. I’m testing positive for the funk. Just lay it on your radio.

The Nightingale Collaboration continues to clear down the misleading claims from WDDTY . Progress so far - 22 down, four to go.

Oh, the Technicolor, fantasy storytelling, unusual characters and a normal old man with no real magical powers. There’s no place like Rome, there’s no etc… Now where are my ruby red slippers?

Here’s a compendium of Bible related links to keep Benny occupied during his retirement: 5 Miracles Deleted From the Bible for Being Too Awesome; Product recall issued for Bible amid health and safety concerns; Don’t Believe Christianity Until You Believe in Aliens and Cardinal O’Brien: Big homo.

Over at SSC they want the incoming Pope to be more hilarious and offer some useful biographical analysis of the most papabile front-runners.  That’s vatacanology for pope-able which sounds altogether ruder.

Dear Daily Mail, in response to your request - get stuffed.

One of our previous speakers, Hayley Stephens, reflects on her prior belief systems whilst reviewing Will Storr’s The Heretics: Adventures with the Enemies of Science. Another one for the book club methinks. Hayley’s site also contains an update on the Randi/Social Darwinism story currently doing the rounds – check it out here.

What’s happening on the Alt med scene this week?

When in doubt deceive: How to boost homeopathy sales? Don’t tell the customer it’s homeopathy.

Astrology and Homeopathy Benefits for Stammering Children: It was on Monday. Bet you’re sorry you missed it. It’s not even a good read and the video’s crap. Give this one a miss eh!

Rejuvenique (maybe that should be EEK!); the equivalent of sit ups for your fizzog (face-ups!) turns you into Dynasty’s Linda Evans in just a few fifteen minute facial workouts; with a video that just keeps on giving. Vanilla Sky or Twiki? You decide.

In September 2012 the Acupuncture Trialists’ Collaboration published the results of an individual patient data meta-analysis of almost 18 000 patients. The Skeptical position is that the study is flawed and has been oversold. The Twenty First Floor reports on the repercussions.

The Cancer Council of Australia has issued a hardline warning on alternative cancer therapies cautioning patients they may compromise conventional medicines and make their condition worse.

Tidying things up in the Alt med section, a good piece from Forbes: There's Nothing Special about Alternative Medicine.

Mars trip to use astronaut poo as radiation shield. The greatest health risk for the couple aboard the Inspiration Mars mission comes from exposure to the radiation from cosmic rays. The solution? Line the spacecraft’s walls with water, food and their own faeces.

One of the main criticisms levelled at scientists is that they won’t investigate cryptozoologists' claims. Plausibility and hard evidence are always good starting points: Cryptozoology? No need for an apology.

Recommended read: If you believe in both science and religion, you are not doing either properly.

Maybe this should be called the Meldrew hypothesis. Older people who have low expectations for a satisfying future may be more likely to live longer, healthier lives than those who see brighter days ahead, according to new research.

A fascinating study sure to elicit a response from both feminists and misogynists: Examining the impact of men’s oppressive beliefs in shaping their female breast size ideals, analyses showed that men’s preferences for larger female breasts were significantly associated with a greater tendency to be benevolently sexist, to objectify women, and to be hostile towards women.

Neuroskeptic has firmly settled in over at Discover Magazine and here addresses a number of controversial topics, some of which we’ve covered before at Sitp: Windfarms, Wi-Fi and Self-Fulfilling Myths.

In fact, it was Andy Lewis who covered the Wi-Fi/EMF subject at Sitp a while ago, and the resulting unforgettable Q & A fallout. Let’s hope he gets an easier ride on Wednesday with his What Every Parent Needs to Know about Steiner Schools talk. It could turn out to be another controversial one. Are you coming along?

Hitchens: diehard antievolutionist. No, not that one.

So what else is happening at Brum Sitp? There’s a book club meeting on the horizon and a recently announced interactive talk on the recreation of medical skin conditions (Holy crap-look at those pictures!) Check it out on our events page and share it with your friends.

To send you on your way here’s a new improved Big Dog.

It’ll soon be Wednesday. Have a great night with Andy Lewis.

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


Peter W-R said...

"No DVD for this one..."


Birmingham Skeptics said...

I know Pete, but to be honest I don't think a DVD could have conveyed the evening in full justice. It was a "you had to be there" type event. - Patrick

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