Sunday, 23 June 2013

The Round-up Weeks 24-25

Hello and welcome to the Birmingham Skeptics Round-up. First of all I’d like to ask if anybody out there has a connection with a person with a name beginning with S? I’m getting a woman with glasses and a large bank balance, something like Scally.... or Silly? Anyway, the overwhelming feeling that I’m getting is that she is very pleased with herself, although there are many around her that are feeling confused even some that are far away.

If you have ever felt cheated by the services of a psychic this is perhaps
not the way to try and get recompense .

It seems totally unjust that as I sit here typing this on a dull and damp Sunday that my eyes should be itching and my nose streaming due to that supposedly summery malady of hay fever.
Perhaps acupuncture can provide a solution!

Let’s have a little section on some evolutionary wonderment. First up for you paleontological twitchers some illustrations from
a field guide to winged dinosaurs. Hopping along next are some exquisitely colourful amphibians.

Still on natural history and the evolution of feathered things Kate Yandal takes on an interesting question in the (perhaps unfortunately titled article if you come from the UK and never left the 70s) “
Why Many Birds Don’t Have Penises

From real life evolutionary processes to the beautiful and hypnotic world of the artificial with

An interesting piece from Dave Logan on the need for
inclusivity of those oft misunderstood geniuses in the workplace.

You know that unpleasant but essentially self-limiting illness
norovirus? Well here is a free sample of a preventative and cure from those lovely people over at Healing Downloads.

Pointing and laughing at plainly ridiculous beliefs is easy, but not always appropriate. How do you react to somebody who adopts
a ridiculous suicidal diet in the belief that it will help them live longer and better?

This seems like the logical place to put a list of i
llogical things that people believe in.
Of all the pictures it was no.3 that evoked the biggest response from me, p
robably due to some evolutionary psychology factor or other. And we’ll smoothly segway here into a promotion for our next excellent talk from evolutionary psychologist Kat Ford on just how good we really are or aren’t at discerning character from faces.

Mind you, perhaps that old debate on the significance of
nature vs nurture is not so dichotomous after all.

First of a recurring lego theme here as word gets out that they are launching their own
Mars Rover. Not to be outdone by the Lego Boffins, Europe is well underway for their next planned Rover to the red planet. It may well have to be that we satisfy ourselves with mechanical exploration unless they can find a good solution to the radiation problem.

You might have noticed in the article about the Lego Rover a link to
Lego Cuusoo where fans can submit models for consideration. One cool person is using this to try and get Lego to redress its gender bias and promote women in STEM and other fields.

Head for the hills, as
New Age terrorist unleash their ultimate weapon!

Girl Guides no longer have to declare allegiance to God. In the interest of balance I should point out that other non-religious organisations for the occupation of your children exist. We should however remember that religious persecution is a real problem and consider the human rights of such groups as the Pastafarians.

How to destroy your opponents using
math when playing monopoly. A fascinating story of maths warriors and an interesting discussion on recognising success from David McRaney. If maths is a subject that floats your boat then put down the 27th of November in your diary. We have Simon Singh coming to Birmingham Skeptics to reveal The Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets. I don’t need to be psychic to know that this will be a popular and brilliant talk.

The final Lego connected story here as we look at the
effects of angry Lego figures on our children.

Emil Karlsson takes on Mike Adams’ climate change denialism.

The longest day has come and gone and we’re in that countdown to winter so old friend Dean Burnett takes us through the
supposedly happiest day of the year.

The anti-vaccination community of Australia
thankfully continue to struggle in what has been a very bad couple of years for them.

A review here of a book on the
child abuse scandal within the Catholic Church. If you like books, discussions and interesting company then make sure you come along to this month’s Book Group to discuss Guns, Germs and Steel. The month after that will be Ben Goldacre’s Bad Pharma.. And if you can’t wait that long to meet up with some lovely sceptical type people then we have our social this week at the Square Peg, hope to see you there.

Dope testing in Formula 1, but for cars and not people.

Francis Crick Institute takes a step closer to reality and contributing to the fight against devastating diseases. Actor Brian Cox also promotes the potential benefits of genome sequencing in the understanding of the human condition.

If you ever need a dose of true Bible based insanity then look no further than
Prophecy News Watch.

Most of these links have been provided by the excellent Roy Beddowes. If you get a bit impatient waiting for these round-ups you should
like our Facebook page where he keeps it populated with a regularly updated stream of the rational and not so rational wonders of the internet.

Here’s a short run through of some of his latest posts for us:

Carl Sagan’s universal order of creation, illustrated., Astronaut gives lecture from space. Gay priests forum uncovered in the Vatican. Transit of the ISS across the Moon. Inside Alpha, an atheist’s foray into Christianity. And finally the Daily Mail admits fracking for vitriol.

If you fancy having a go at doing one of these round-ups for us then let us know via any of the usual methods and we’d be more than happy for you to do so. We’d even send you over a list of links that you could use or ignore.

Remember to come along to our events and to look further into the future keep checking
on this webpage. Please note our upcoming open mic night. We’ve had a couple of applications but we’re looking for more so don’t be shy.

Finally we’ll leave you with this sceptical warning for the guilty parent:

This round-up was put together by Patrick Redmond with the welcome assistance of Roy Beddowes.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Round – up Wks. 22 to 23.

Hello and welcome to another Round-up.

Creationism is the hot topic this week at Sitp so, fresh from his stint on the BBC’s best advert for atheism, The Big Questions, we had Jonny Scaramanga visiting us on Wednesday night to tell us about his fundamentalist experiences, old beliefs, and the goings on “Inside Britain’s Creationist Schools”. This was a fantastic talk and if you were unlucky enough to miss it Jonny has a channel up on YouTube with some of his back story and you can check here to get hold of the DVD when it’s all edited and nice.

Psychic Sally’s libel case against The Daily Mail started on Monday 10th June and is slated to last at least three weeks. Talk about conflicted! Well, I (don’t) like The Daily Mail and I (don’t) like Sally Morgan, but which is better? Only one way to find out… With bonus Daily Mash repost and an extract from Richard Bacon’s A Series of Unrelated Events to boot.

Zack Kopplin at The Guardian reports that Louisiana's legislators are continuing their legislative jihad to keep the theory of evolution out of the state's public school science classrooms. 

Yoga opens you to Satanic possession
says GOP candidate,
 luckily there's a high energy workout that doesn’t compromise your spiritual beliefsMore gems from the confused E.W. Jackson here.

What a week! Fitting a kitchen and dealing with nuisance neighbours has led to interactions with a plumber wearing a copper bracelet and a Peeler sporting a blue holographic Power Balance band. Plenty of rib digs from Mrs B to ‘be nice’– oof!

By marketing products as “free from” GM, aspartame, MSG and parabens, supermarkets are playing on people's fears based on rumours about these substances.
Similarly, Professor Joe Schwarz explains that the important point to understand is that the presence of a chemical is not the same as presence of risk.

Global flood in 2345BC – whole of Ireland evacuated! Let’s read that again…

When the abuse of insulin injections, syrups that cause vomiting and fasting pacts amongst friends fail in keeping your weight down, how about resorting to a painful hernia repair patch stitched to your tongue? Hmm…perhaps someone should mention this treatment to Michael Douglas who invokes a very strange law of similars as a cure for his cancer. Anybody care to suggest a (preferably clean) name for Michael’s new ‘opathy’?

Research by Oxford University Psychologists suggests that a 'belief in science' may help non-religious people deal with adversity by offering comfort and reassurance.

Ghosts, Triskaidekaphobics and tetraphobics stigmatize properties.

To boldy go: Star Trek Darkness promotes bestiality claims another pastor who fails to understand evolution, biology, species, etc.

Penned by Paul Burns for Freethinker Magazine and almost as long: If cats wrote the Bible.

Misplaced decimal point could sink submarine. A mere 70 tons too heavy!

Senior Salvation Army officials go on record that LGBT parents should be put to death, as the Bible instructs.

Not sure if this is really Round-up material – just found it a bit odd: William Windsor (goat).

America's Best Christian takes time to explain to less informed Christians the curious details of the Lord's concept of marriage: Betty Bowers Explains Traditional Marriage to Everyone Else.

Consumers don’t know that taking megavitamins could increase their risk of cancer and heart disease and shorten their lives reports Paul A. Offit at The New York Times.

Simply asking people whether they experienced an event can trick them into later believing that it did occur: Studying the misinformation effect on Dutch soldiers deployed in Afghanistan.

During a speech on the senate floor, a Democratic lawmaker cited an interesting source to urge his colleagues to get serious about climate change; The Bible.

Swears abound at Short & Spiky as a question is posed. Does Homeopathy rot your brain?

Half the size of a paperclip, weighing less than a tenth of a gram, inspired by the biology of a fly, with submillimeter-scale anatomy and two wafer-thin wings that flap almost invisibly at 120 times per second: Flight of the Robobee.

Nothing to see here, just a regular day at the office: Pope performs exorcism.

Following the evidence: Magician Uri Geller teaches much about Bible miracles.

Can’t say we’re surprised by this statement from the next article ‘Every day in a small museum in Kentucky, a few hundred adults and children stare at a diorama of Adam sitting next to a placid dinosaur’; no doubt slack-jawed too as we would be. Slightly late for Darwin Day nonetheless an interesting read - Big trouble in Creationist paradise.

Further updates from the Creation museum comprise of an exhibit to include unicorns and dinosaurs and, in a push to diversify, adding secular fare such as zip lines and sky bridges. Sounds like a good way to celebrate your kinship with the primates – go ape.

Emil Karllson takes on Intellihub, an online “alternative” news site that claims to provide “independent news for independent minds”, in this excellent point by point takedown of a recent ant-vaccine post:  Irrefutable Evidence Shows That Anti-Vaccine Activists Still Have No Clue.

Bringing things to a close, there’s just space to point you towards our future events and book club pages, and keep an eye on our FB and Twitter updates; we may have a surprise speaker in store later in the year.

“If there is one thing about science that everyone should understand, or that would at least clear up much misunderstanding, then it is the concept that science offers only provisional knowledge about the world, and not anything absolute”. Not so good if you like your dinosaurs just the way they are: (For Ken)….. F U science! (NSFW due to >20 swears)

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