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The November Michigan Skeptics Get Together

Most of the Get Together
This is most of the people that attended our first Get together. I could not get an angle that would fit everyone.

Our next Get Together will be on Saturday, November 13 at 4:00 PM. We will be in the back room of Ginger Restaurant, located at:

8465 N. Lilley Rd

Canton, MI 48187
Tel: 734-414-1818

Come and join us for lively discussion, drinks, dinner and debate! This is a good event for Skeptics of Michigan to come together and discuss local, national, worldwide items affecting skeptics. All are welcome to listen and participate.

We also have special guests and speakers that contribute to the conversation and/or debate.

Please be sure to RSVP so I know how many are coming. We seem to be outgrowing the venue rather quickly.

We also set up a Meetup group to help organize the events. Please register and RSVP!

I hope to see you all there!

Cry Havoc: Episode Three of the Drunken Skeptics Podcast

The next episode of The Drunken Skeptics is here!

Ed Brayton
Ed Brayton

In this episode, we talk with Ed Brayton of Michigan Citizens for Science.

We also discuss Nobel Laureate Professor Robert Edwards and his creation of In Vitro Fertilization.

Finally we taste some amazing Ugly Dog Vodka and talk about our tour of the Micro Distillery.

As always, we also have our Whiskey & Shenanigans where we bring attention to the good things that happened (the Whiskey) and call out the bad things (the Shenanigans).

You can find the show notes here.

A Skeptical Chat With…Jack Scanlan of ‘Homologous Legs’

This is a blog series where I interview writers, bloggers, podcasters, etc. about topics relevant to science, skepticism, and critical thinking.

Today I speak with Jack Scanlan about his website called Homologous Legs, his podcast “The PseudoScientists” and he answers my questions regarding his interest in Evolution, rebutting Intelligent Design articles, and skepticism.

Hello and thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about your blog Homologous Legs and the Pseudo Scientists podcast.  Can you start off by introducing yourself to the readers of the Michigan Skeptics Association, please, about who you are, what made you create the Homologous Legs blog, and the circumstances that led to the Pseudo Scientists podcast? 

I’m Jack Scanlan, an Australian biology student, and I write under the name Naon Tiotami about evolution and its pseudoscientific critics – namely intelligent design proponents and creationists – on my blog Homologous Legs. I started the blog in April of 2008 to compliment the YouTube videos I was making at the time, responding to fundamentalist Christians who had a very poor understanding of evolutionary theory. Over time I stopped making those types of videos, but my blogging remained and became broader in scope, focusing not just on Biblical creationists but also on the influential intelligent design movement, as well as general skepticism and science communication.I’m heavily involved in the skeptical and secular communities and I’m one of the founding members of the slightly niche Young Australian Skeptics (YAS) group blog and community, which was created in late 2008 as a place for the younger people in the Australian skeptical movement to have a voice and meet like-minded people. Its official podcast is The Pseudo Scientists, which caters to the podcasting needs of the YAS’s members, needs that are often voracious. Continue reading

Group takes a friendlier approach to skepticism

Travis Roy of Granite State Skeptics had a nice article written about him and his organization in the Nashua Telegraph. It centers around the group and their philosophy of “Don’t be a Dick“, of which I’m sure Phil Plait isn’t tired AT ALL of hearing that term…

Halloween is a tough time of year for people like Travis Roy, one of the co-founders of Granite State Skeptics, because ghosts and goblins and the living dead are everywhere.

If you’re a skeptic – someone whose passion is helping people enjoy the world as it actually is, rather than a world diluted by weird stories – you could go crazy in October trying to debunk all that stuff.

Roy has a better idea: Enjoy it, in an educational way.

Continue reading

America’s True History of Religious Tolerance

John Winthrop
As governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Winthrop, right, led a theocracy that tolerated no dissent. (Bettmann / Corbis)

Wading into the controversy surrounding an Islamic center planned for a site near New York City’s Ground Zero memorial this past August, President Obama declared: “This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are.” In doing so, he paid homage to a vision that politicians and preachers have extolled for more than two centuries—that America historically has been a place of religious tolerance. It was a sentiment George Washington voiced shortly after taking the oath of office just a few blocks from Ground Zero.

But is it so?

In the storybook version most of us learned in school, the Pilgrims came to America aboard the Mayflower in search of religious freedom in 1620. The Puritans soon followed, for the same reason. Ever since these religious dissidents arrived at their shining “city upon a hill,” as their governor John Winthrop called it, millions from around the world have done the same, coming to an America where they found a welcome melting pot in which everyone was free to practice his or her own faith.

The problem is that this tidy narrative is an American myth. The real story of religion in America’s past is an often awkward, frequently embarrassing and occasionally bloody tale that most civics books and high-school texts either paper over or shunt to the side. And much of the recent conversation about America’s ideal of religious freedom has paid lip service to this comforting tableau.

Continue reading

A Skeptical Chat With…Dan Moutal of ‘Irregular Climate’

This is a blog series where I interview writers, bloggers, podcasters, etc. about topics relevant to science, skepticism, and critical thinking.

Today I speak with Dan Moutal about his website and podcast, and he answers my questions regarding his approach to providing information on global warming.

Hello and thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about the Irregular Climate podcast and blog.  Can you start off by introducing yourself to the readers of the Michigan Skeptics Association website, please, about who you are, what got you interested in the issue of climate change, and what led you to create the Irregular Climate podcast?

What can I say? Well I guess I can start by saying that I am not a climate expert. My formal education ends at a Bachelor of Science from the University of British Columbia in the Faculty of Forestry. Because I am not an expert I try to convey, not my opinion, but that of the mainstream scientific community; it is this opinion that has authority. This is the bedrock of reasoning as to why I accept global warming. I accept mainstream science, even when I don’t fully understand it.

But the great thing about climate is that much of the science can be understood ( at least qualitatively) by laypeople. Unfortunately in order to understand climate as a layperson one needs to be very good at weeding out bad sources. There exists a co-ordinated and well funded misinformation campaign and many well intentioned people have been mislead by it. No one wants to receive bad news after all.

I started blogging ( many years ago as a way to catalogue interesting stuff I found on the internet. Slowly my blog grew, as did my readership (not that I have ever had many readers). I dabbled in political blogging (I have strong opinions on many political issues), but got tired of the predictable partisan nature of the political blog landscape. So overtime I drifted away from politics and moved slowly towards science. Having always been fascinated by science I preferred this subject even if my readership declined. One specific topic that has always both intrigued and worried me is the issue of sustainability. This inevitably lead to dealing with the climate. And I was astonished to see the gulf of opinion between the public and the scientific community. I was even more astonished by those why claimed to be experts but were peddling obviously flawed talking points. So I focused my efforts on climate. The issue is too important for the public to have such a poor understanding of it.

The Irregular Climate podcast began because I couldn’t find a climate podcast that covered all the topics I wanted covered. So I bought I microphone and started recording without really knowing what I was doing. I’ve learnt a lot since the first episode, but also realized how much more there is for me to learn.

Continue reading

RDF sues Josh Timonen for Embezzlement

According to Courthouse News Service, Richard Dawkins, founder of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science  and the author of The Selfish Gene (my personal favourite) and a multitude of other books, is suing his aide for embezzlement.  Josh Timonen, to whom the book “The Greatest Show on Earth” is dedicated, is alleged to have stolen $375,000 over three years from the online store that Timonen ran.  This is in addition to the salary of $272,750 over three years that was paid out to Mr. Timonen.

Edit:  In the (now entitled Rational Skepticism), it appears as if someone has dug up the actual legal complaint, if you’re so inclined to check it out.  Looks like the L.A. Superior Courts will be handling the case?

Obviously, nothing’s been proven as of yet, but it will be rather interesting to see how this plays out.  Josh Timonen is perhaps best well known (and a bit infamous) for his role within the scrapping of the RDF forums and the non-communicative way that the transition was handled.  I don’t have first hand knowledge regarding the particulars of the transition to the current forum format at RDF, but however it was done left a sour taste in many of the regulars of the forums.  Perhaps there will be changes afoot with the relieving of Josh Timonen from a position of authority.

On a more personal note, I know that I’ve spent money at the RDF store; this makes me wonder if my money got to where it was meant to go.  If there has been embezzlement, I’ll be happy to see it back to the RDF to further their cause of education in science and reason.

Carpe Carpem: Episode Two of the Drunken Skeptics Podcast


The second episode of The Drunken Skeptics podcast is here!

In this episode, we talk to veteran journalist Jack Lessenberry.

We also talk to Dr. Gerald Smith about the potential fallacy of the Asian Carp issue.

As always, we also have our Whiskey & Shenanigans where we bring attention to the good things that happened (the Whiskey) and call out the bad things (the Shenanigans).

You can also find our show notes here.

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