The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Skeptic’s Class Now in Session: The 135th Skeptic’s Circle!

Posted by mattusmaximus on April 23, 2010

Welcome students!  Now that we’re all gathered we can start this biweekly lesson on all things skeptical, paranormal, pseudoscientific, and just plain nutty.  I want to thank you all for allowing me, the Skeptical Teacher, to present these lessons on behalf of my skeptical colleagues.  It’s quite a long class, and I know there are other demands upon your time (the weekend is coming, after all), so let’s get started… notebooks & pencils out, please.  Pay careful attention, because you never know when or where what you learn in Skeptic’s Class will turn out to be useful :)

First off, since I am a teacher & I’m into all that education stuff, I want to let everyone know about a new organization dedicated to providing skeptical outreach & education to women, the Women Thinking Free Foundation (or WTF Foundation ;) ).  I’m totally promoting this new organization not just because I’m a professional science educator who is interested in seeing more young women become interested in science & skepticism, but also because I happen to be on the WTFF board of directors (so promotion is, like, part of the job description).  Here’s more info about the WTFF…

Our goal as an organization is to bring science, skepticism and critical thinking to the women of the Midwest. We’re planning some great events, campaigns and outreach programs to help provide women with the tools to fight pseudoscience.

Our next lesson comes from Phil over at Skeptic Money, where he puts a new, modern twist on The Last Supper – he calls it Last Supper With Scientists, where rather than revering various religious figures from Christianity one can bask in the imagery of famous scientists both past & present who have made arguably greater contributions to humanity than most religious figures.  Can you guess who they are without peeking at Phil’s blog for the answers?…

Our next lesson comes from Down Under… Kylie at the well-known Podblack Cat blog has decided to share a few tidbits with us.  First, there’s her list of skeptical Podblack Finds For 18th April 2010 – which include, among other things, a controversy over something called “Clitoraid” (sounds sexy), a tutorial on scientific skepticism, and superstitions about the money spider.  Her second post is a very interesting take on a subject I’ve never seen addressed before – the issue of Deafness and Skepticism. Check it out!

The 360 Degree Skeptic then follows with a lesson that is of interest to many a skeptic, the question of Biblical fallibility, which is outlined in his post on Biblical Claims and Science. In a post that examines a more contemporary issue, he then goes on to explore the question of self-esteem as related to race and how “we would be wise to heed the quiet” of the neglected null in various forms of psychology research.

Next, Dr. Martin Rundkvist publishes a book review for us on how a U.S. sociologist travels to Denmark to study the Scandinavian view on religion and discovers that they pretty much don’t care about it, displaying a marked contrast to how the issue is often addressed (by both the religious & non-religious) in other parts of the world.  The book is by Phil Zuckerman and is titled “Society Without God”, and Dr. Rundkvist’s comments can be read here.

Following that we have a few posts addressing a variety of medical woo, specifically a pair of posts on that skeptics’ favorite – homeopathy (one from Skeptics North and another from Science-Based Pharmacy).  The folks at Skeptics North take on a popular homeopathic “remedy” called Traumeel while over at SBP they address the question of Homeopathy and Consumer Protection. In addition, the SBP takes some time to examine some… interesting claims regarding whether or not green tea & chili peppers can burn fat.

Our next guest is new to both blogging and the Skeptic’s Circle!  Please welcome the librarian from the Labyrinthine Library, who is talking today about how recent earthquakes, volcanoes, and other assorted natural disasters are not evidence for The End of the World. In addition to referencing some nice earth science, the librarian also does a cool historical analysis on the topic and concludes – surprise! – there is nothing to fear.

Last, but not least, over at the Stuff and Nonsense blog we have a very informative post regarding how some doctors are continuing to push various forms of anti-vaccination woo.  Some of these woo-ish arguments are new to me, so if battling anti-vax is something that interests you, head on over to read all about it.

Well, that’s all for now, thanks for attending.  I hope you took good notes, because there’s going to be a quiz!  Yes, I know I didn’t tell you that ahead of time, but you – as a dedicated student of skepticism – should be prepared to stand up for science & rationality at any time, announced or not.

See you in a couple of weeks, on May 6th, for the next class over at 360 Degree Skeptic! :)

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5 Responses to “Skeptic’s Class Now in Session: The 135th Skeptic’s Circle!”

  1. Anne said

    That Last Supper image is so cool! But Phil credits the original post at Rational Crank. http://rationalcrank.blogspot.com/2010/03/each-of-people-in-this-picture-has.html

  2. Oh Matt,

    I’m so glad you’re promoting the organization not just because you want to, but also because you have to.

    The founder of WTF must be a real whip cracker!

  3. Matt,
    Thanks for the repost and thanks Anne for pointing out that the last supper was the work of Rational Crank. Good post Matt!

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