Friday, July 27, 2012

Episode 068 spaces out, avoids chicken and theaters, and eventually tans some hides

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00:03:00 Birthday Louise Joy Brown
00:06:50 Like our Facebook page and write a review on iTunes
00:12:00 Slacktivism: Web Of Trust
00:16:35 Indonesian activist petition
00:20:00 Aurora Colorado
00:59:00 Sally Ride, first American Woman in Space
01:02:30 Chick-Fil-A
01:11:50 Neanderthals

And the dogs wrestle themsleves and their squeak toys into submission.

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The Big Board

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

30 Seconds Of "Work" From You Could Help Save Lives

One of the big themes from this years TAM was a call to action.  Get out there and DO something.  Forget getting into a Freethought Blogs flame war:  Channel your furious skeptical energy to making an actual difference.  But who has that kind of time?  Well, frankly, YOU do.  There are a lot of things you can do in your spare time to make the world a better place and most of it is on the internet.  Tim Farley gave a good breakdown of various options that you have.  Croud-source projects, edit Wikipedia like Susan Gerbic, write a legislator, etc.  Something more than the guilty pleasure of Pharengulateing a poll (Hi PZ!  Big fan...don't hurt me.).

One of the simplest "slacktivist" tools mentioned at TAM 2012 was the "Web Of Trust" browser add-on.  You install the plug-in to whatever brand of browser you use and you will see a red-orange-yellow-green rating of the reliability of any rated site before you click on a link.  People rate any site on its Trustworthiness, Vendor Reliability, Privacy, and Child Safety and then leave an additional comment to explain the rating.  Once you are used to how it works, it only takes 30 seconds.  This can be a quick way to help warn the un-skeptical of dangerous content.

Speaking of dangerous content...

The Skeptic Wire is not a huge podcast by any stretch of the imagination, but I'd like to see what we can do as a group to change just ONE little thing that's "wrong on the internet".  Since we launched our show in early 2011 we've mentioned the "Natural News" website often.  Mostly to debunk their latest crazy post with great derision.  "Natural News" is un-apologetically pro-woo, anti-vaccine, and spout conspiracy theories left and right.  Here's one of their latest bizarre posts: "Colorado Batman shooting shows obvious signs of being staged". Yikes.

This is the "Natural News" WOT rating as of July 24th, 2012:
  • Trustworthiness = 74
  • Vendor Reliability = 72
  • Privacy = 77
  • Child Safety = 74
ALL four scores have a "High" or "Very High" confidence rating.  That sucks.

I don't mind if you've never "Liked" us on Facebook, followed us on Twitter, or gave us a rating on iTunes.  Heck, some of you may have never even listened to our show!  That's fine, we're just a podcast.  Our "Primate Sexy Time" jokes won't change the world.  But we can make an actual difference if you PLEASE help us do something to warn people about bad science and dangerous medical advice.  Here's what you do:
  • Download and install Web Of Trust plug-in (restart your browser)
  • Follow this link to the WOT scorecard page of "Natural News"
  • Rate them, in whatever combination you're comfortable with (I gave them a "yellow" on vendor reliability because I just don't know.  Child safety?  RED, RED, RED!!!)
  • Leave a comment (Optional)
  • SAVE
My one vote didn't change a lot, but if we all vote and then share with our skeptical friends we can do something good.  Eventually when someone's looking for vaccine information they'll go to the CDC instead of a mis-information site like "Natural News".


Friday, July 20, 2012

Episode 067 conventionally goes over tam (that's how South'nus say it anyway)

* NOTE: this episode was recorded and edited before the tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado. Our thoughts go out to those affected.

Download it directly here, get it on iTunes, or join the Feedburner feed.

00:03:00 David Barton wins the "least credible history book in print" award form the History News Network poll
00:05:45 Birthday: Nelson Mandela
00:10:51 Donna Rants Movie Theater Etiquette
00:17:40 Boyscouts and Chick-Fil-A are officially bigoted
- NOTE: no one entity owns the Boy Scouts, however, the LDS Church is a major supporter of the Boy Scouts and have pushed to make the BSA a religious organization, along with the Catholic Church
00:22:00 Another libel suit win in England by Nature Magazine
00:26:00 Greg's The Amazing Meeting 2012 review, plus discussion
01:14:00 2012 Texas Democratic Platform Statement

And the dogs presumbably work on getting the power back on at the house so they can lounge in comfortable air conditioning.

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No Big Board this week, so here is a picture of a Greg singing something.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Texas GOP Position paper

As mentioned in the podcast (wait did we mention it...oh yes..yes we did), the Republican Party if Texas released their 2012 platform paper to rave reviews. I would embed it here, but even though it is a public document, I don't necessarily have the rights to upload it to Scribd, but here is a link:
(if you can't find it and really want it, just give us a line and we'll email it to you)

Many pundits, bloggers, and what-have-you's have made good note and fun of this gem from the  statement that somehow "mistakenly" got through the editorial process. From page 12 of the document "Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority."

The Communications Director for the RPoT, Chris Elam, told Talking Points Memo at the end of June that the use of "critical thinking skill" was a mistake bu that they would have to wait until 2014 to fix it. Really? It's a helluva important document, they might  think about fixing it now. Or are there some in the party that would be against, I don't know, accurate language? Or perhaps they feel that making a correction shows some kind of flaw? Sort of like the whole "flip flop" language of campaigns past: don't make a mistake or we will slam you for it, and then don't change your mind because that means you don't have a real position.

I looked, but I could not find that they backed off from any of the other statements in the report, so I feel safe in saying that the Texas GOP is pretty much a radical, anti-* organization, now, who stand against a lot but not for anything. But that isn't going to stop people from voting for them, because often candidates say radical things simply to make themselves stand out and many voters don't think they really believe their own rhetoric. Which is why the only non ultra-Conservative Presidential candidate, Jon Hunstman, quickly dropped out. Possibly because the radical candidates were more fun to watch.

Regardless, it appears that Texas Republicans must adhere to a policy statement that may sound good from a financial point of view but from a social and societal standpoint  are misguided, selfish, bigoted, and short-sighted at their core.

As always, however, I could be wrong. What do you think?


Skeptic Wire Episode 066 asks why Texas won'r be able to read

Download it directly here, get it on iTunes, or join the Feedburner feed.

00:02:00 Leo Igwe to speak in San Antonio

00:05:30 Regnerus Study Update

00:07:30 Donna Rants
Most memorable TV news moments from the past 50 years

00:16:00 2012 Texas GOP Platform report

Update on platform statement:

And the dogs facepaw during the Texas GOP discussion. Fear not: they are well-versed in it and thus did not harm themselves or each other.

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The Big Board

Friday, July 6, 2012

Episode 065 Song Challenge! sways patriotically down Main Street belting out songs

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00:01:00 School!
00:10:40 Birthday Rube Goldberg
00:15:10 In God We Trust by Hobby Lobby: no USA without God advertisement
00:20:35 Chimpanzees maul UTSA student
00:29:30 Higgs Boson announcement
00:43:45 Garys Song Patriotism
00:52:30 Gregs Song Welcome to your Family
01:03:50 Lightning Round

And the dogs just relax, knowing that all the fireworks wil have them nicely worked up later.

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Gary's Words (in no particular order)
Bryce, James

Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong.

Adams, John Quincy
Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.

Fosdick, Harry Emerson

He is a poor patriot whose patriotism does not enable him to understand how all men everywhere feel about their altars and their hearthstones, their flag and their fatherland.

Franklin, Benjamin

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!

Johnson, Samuel

Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels.

Kennedy, John F.

The men who create power make an indispensable contribution to the Nation’s greatness, but the men who question power make a contribution just as indispensable, especially when that questioning is disinterested, for they determine whether we use power or power uses us.

Kennedy, John F.

The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.

Kennedy, Robert F

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.

King Jr., Martin Luther

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

King Jr., Martin Luther

There is nothing more dangerous than to build a society, with a large segment of people in that society, who feel that they have no stake in it; who feel that they have nothing to lose. People who have a stake in their society, protect that society, but when they dont have it, they unconsciously want to destroy it.

Lincoln, Abraham

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.

Lincoln, Abraham

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.

Malcolm X

Youre not to be so blind with patriotism that you cant face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who says it.

Russell, Bertrand

Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons.


A mans feet must be planted in his country, but his eyes should survey the world.

Schurz, Carl

Our country, right or wrong. When right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right.

Shaw, George Bernard

Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it

Shaw, George Bernard

You will never have a quiet world until you knock the patriotism out of the human race.

Stevenson, Adlai

My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.


War does not determine who is right - only who is left.


Men fight for freedom, then they begin to accumulate laws to take it away from themselves.

“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.” - mark twain
Dissent is the highest form of patriotism. Thomas Paine

The time is fast approaching when to call a man a patriot will be the deepest insult you can offer him. Patriotism now means advocating plunder in the interest of the privileged classes of the particular State system into which we have happened to be born.
Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy quotes

Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism -how passionately I hate them!
Albert Einstein quotes

Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives.
John Adams

When I am abroad, I always make it a rule never to criticize or attack the government of my own country. I make up for lost time when I come home.
Sir Winston Churchill

The essence of patriotism is the sacrifice of personal interest to public welfare.


Patriotism is one of the unalterable facts of mans nature. It is a virtue if you like it, and a vice if you dont like it.


When a whole nation is roaring patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and the purity of its heart.


I never considered myself a patriot. I like to think I recognize only humanity as my nation.


In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.


Greg's Words

"Welcome to Your Family"

Welcome to your family
Its you we are waiting to see.
We will dance, draw, and sing songs for you
You are a voice in our musical clan
You are gonna love and hate the
Works of Gilbert and Sullivan
Your folks and kin are not perfect
We will not always get you right
But we are by your side
When its time for fight or flight.
Welcome to your family.

Welcome to your country
From sea to shining sea
We are a patchwork of stories
Lessons to teach and preach
Round and Round we clash
We love our freedom of speech.
We come in all shapes, sizes, colors
It is a mixed up melting pot
But when we can come together
We can give the moon a shot.
Welcome to your country.

Welcome to your planet
Wrapped in a thin air blanket
We are one country in a big, old world
And we never always agree
We are one ape on a web of life
With the bugs, trees, and beasties.
Plants, animals, and peoples
They need to live on Earth somewhere
Take what you need to live but
Remember that Elmo told you to share.
Welcome to your planet.
Welcome to your family.


Welcome to your universe
Go to sleep with this last verse
You are new home is a pale blue dot
A speck in countless galaxies
Even with big, big telescopes
We barely see the boundaries.
We still do not have the answers
Of quantum or sky above
We are hoping you’ll go further
Find the secrets we have only dreamed of.
Welcome to your universe.
Welcome to your family.