New YouTube video: Things That Annoy Me – A Short List

Hark, is that a new YouTube video I see? Why yes, it is! And about time too, I should think.

While I don’t usually complain about things, I thought the time was right. Plus, I needed a topic. So… if you have any requests for videos that I should make, feel free to email me or post a comment somewhere on this site with your topic. Overcoming that idea-hurdle is always appreciated.

On the Tendency of Skeptics to form Circles; and on the Perpetuation of Circles and Skeptics by Natural Means of Selection

MY DEAR SIR,

The accompanying papers, which we have the honour of communicating to the Internet, and which all related to the same subject, viz. the Laws which affect the Production of Skepticism, Science, and Critical Thinking, contain the results of the investigations of an indefatigable blogging skeptic, Mr. Jack Scanlan. The gentleman having, independently and unknown to himself, conceived the same very ingenious theory as himself to account for the appearance and perpetuation of science and of specific forms of skepticism on our planet, and does fairly claim the merit of being original thinkers in this important line of inquiry; but has not published his views, though Mr. Scanlan has for many weeks past been repeatedly urged by us to do so, and the author having now unreservedly placed his paper in our hands, we think it would best promote the interests of science that a selection from it should be laid before the Internet. Taken in no particular order, as there is only one, and as such there is no order, they consist of one:

The 114th Skeptics’ Circle Blog Carnival, by J. SCANLAN

We have the honour to be yours very obediently,

CHARLES LYELL.

JOS. D. HOOKER.

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I. “The 114th Skeptics’ Circle Blog Carnival”, by J. SCANLAN

It has long been known in the skeptical community that blogging is an effective medium with which to impart certain ideas to a wide audience all across the globe. While no-one surely doubts the veracity of that statement in this modern day and age, it must still be said that every attempt so far at reconsiling the diversity and scope of the skeptical movement with the natural order of the Internet has been met with cruel lashings of unrepentant failure.

It is my hope, that with this publication, one shall be able to explain the inner workings of skepticism within an artificial construction called a Skeptics’ Circle. Such a Circle would contain all the necessary components of a true skeptical environment, but with the added advantage over a raw expedition of one being able to observe the changes and interactions that happen within it at a safe distance, without fear of harm to oneself, or fear of upsetting the natural order.

Naturalists studying skepticism have been using Circles for years to highlight the diversity and sheer amazing varieties of skepticism within the greater and lesser known parts of the Internet, but it has never before been attempted successfully to explain the origins of such diversity using a Circle. This paper serves to highlight how one might attempt such a project.

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The 114th Skeptic’s Circle, to be hosted here at Homologous Legs

On the 18th of June, the 113th edition of the famed Skeptic’s Circle blog carnival was hosted at The Uncredible Hallq, featuring posts from great skeptical blogs you might know like Podblack Cat and Action Skeptics.

On the 2nd of July, the 114th edition of the Skeptic’s Circle will be hosted here, at Homologous Legs. This is the first time I’ve hosted such a celebrated carnival before, so it would be safe to say that I’m slightly nervous. But hopefully I’ll get some great submissions to show off, and I’ll think of a novel way in which to present it.

Speaking about ways of presenting the Circle, it has long been a challenge for the person hosting to come up with an interesting idea, and by challenge, I do mean challenge. The 107th edition, hosted by the Skeptic’s Field Guide, was in the form of a podcast, and the 108th edition, hosted by Podblack Cat, was summarised in a nice video. Other ideas have included a scientific paper, an infomercial, and even a dramatic short story.

Looks like I have my work cut out for me. But I’ll come up with something, somehow. Perhaps… a divine revelation – the Norse God of Skepticism (I always forget her name, sorry) will descend from the clouds and present me with the ultimate method. So, if it turns out great, that’s what happened. But if it’s the worst Circle ever, then clearly it was the will of Gods, and it served some greater good, like shaming me so intensely that it stopped me from ever posting on the Internet ever again.

So, if you’re a skeptical blogger, whether you’ve participated in the Skeptic’s Circle before or not, send me an email before the 2nd of July (hopefully not at the very last second) with your submission. If you don’t know much about the carnival, here are the official guidelines. There you can also find the topics that have been deemed appropriate for submission to the Circle.

You can email me at: jacksca (at) gmail (dot) com. Hopefully you’ll be able to work out how that works. Hopefully. If not, well… Post your concern in the comments.

Hopefully it’ll be a great carnival on the 2nd of July! Don’t forget to tell all your skeptical Internet friends, be it through your own blog, or via Twitter or another social media site. Remember, you can use the Sociable icons below this post as shortcuts for all you who are busy.

Sign to Support Simon Singh (Alliteration Not Necessarily Needed)

Sorry about the title, but you’ve got to take the opportunity to do that when it arises. Just be grateful that I didn’t use a paraphilia like I did before.

Skeptics who are “hip” with all the recent news related to the movement will probably know all about what’s happening with Simon Singh, one of the authors of the book Trick or Treatment?: Alternative Medicine on Trial. Simon is being sued by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) for libel, relating to claims he made in an article he wrote for The Guardian newspaper about the veracity of chiropractic treatments, calling them “bogus”.

In a recent preliminary court hearing, the judge held that, by using the word “bogus” to refer to the chiropractic treatments, Simon was stating that the BCA was being deliberately dishonest and knew that the chiropractic it was endorsing was unevidenced and/or harmful. While he really wasn’t saying that, due to the nature of British libel law, Simon had to prove his innocence, which essential meant that he had to supply evidence that the BCA was being dishonest.

He’s now trying to appeal the decision, and he needs everyone’s help. The main way you can help at the moment is to sign this statement entitled “The law has no place in scientific disputes”. You can also, if you have a blog or a website, place this button in your sidebar, like I have:

free debate

Please try and tell everyone you know about this. Simon Singh really needs our support.

(h/t to Podblack Cat)

Skeptic Zone/Young Australian Skeptics talks a smashing success

The audience!

Over one hundred people turned up! Pretty good for a six-month old podcast.

Last night, the Young Australian Skeptics were lucky enough to host a night of talks and musical comedy by Richard Saunders, Dr. Rachael Dunlop and Dave the Happy Singer, at the Elizabeth Murdoch lecture theater at Melbourne University. Here’s just some of the photos taken of the event.

(More photos and info after the jump!)

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When two worlds collide, the YAS and Skeptic Zone together at last?

Reposted from the Sceptics’ Book of Pooh-Pooh

What will happen when the YAS and the Skeptic Zone finally meet?

Will they all spontaneously combust?

Will their creative energies combine to create a super massive black hole?

Will it come to pass that the age-old Melbourne/Sydney rivalry can never be resolved?

Or will the Sydney team finally discover that Jack Scanlan is in fact a retired professor of archeaology moonlighting as a 17 year old genius in a TIKTAALIK hoodie?

Find out soon, as some representatives from the Skeptic Zone plan to make the trek to Melbourne in May.

This includes Richard Saunders and myself, but also Kylie Sturgess all the way from Perth, plus our very good friend and regular special guest, Dave the Happy Singer.

We are planning to mosey down for some interviews, a talk or two, and a few beers with our very good friends, the YAS. Not forgetting of course, Joel Birch, Catherine Donaldson, and Matt from ilikeportello blogspot, plus whoever else we have met along the way!

We need some help however. Richard and I would like to give a double-header talk, but we need advice on a venue. Can you help? Leave a comment if you can.

Richard does a talk entitled “Scepticism 101” and mine is “Dr Rachie Reports; adventures of a scientist in an alternative medicine world“. (We anticipate we will probably be in town for a weekend in May).

Oh, and if you have a few extra dollars floating around just aching for a good cause, we would sincerely appreciate help with raising funds for our plane tickets. Even if you can chuck 20 bucks our way, it all helps a group of dedicated volunteers, doing our best to spread the word of science and reason. (There’s a paypal button on our website).

So hold on to your hats, tell your friends, and watch out Melbourne!

Psst! I can’t wait to meet @jacksmother

So, members of the Skeptic Zone podcast, are going to come down to the lovely city of Melbourne in May and give some talks and catch up with us all! I can barely contain my excitement! So, as the post says, chuck a few dollars their way to help cover travelling costs, if you feel so inclined.

And, yes, I do own a TIKTAALIK hoodie: my Year 12 leavers attire. It’s rather nice, don’t you think?

photo-133

As for being a retired archaeology professor… I’ll leave that for you to find out when you come along to the meetup in May…

“What Do I Do Next?” – A useful list of things you can do to help the skeptical movement

Kylie Sturgess from Podblack Cat recently alerted me, via Twitter, of a new project headed by Daniel Loxton, of Junior Skeptic fame, entitled “What Do I Do Next? – Leading Skeptics Discuss 105 Practical Ways to Promote Science and Advance Skepticism”

It’s a monster, 68-page PDF that is an edited panel discussion between 13 well-known skeptics, including Kylie herself (also from the Skeptic Zone podcast), Karen Stollznow (the editor of the Australian Skeptics Skeptic magazine), Jay Novella (from the Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast), Brian Dunning (from the Skeptoid podcast), as well as others you probably know.

As you might grasp from its title, it contains 105 practical things that skeptics can do to help the movement, including stuff about Communicating, Investigating, and Local Organising, all given from multiple perspectives due to the panel-esque discussion format. It’s all really great information, and I highly recommend downloading it and reading it for yourself.

You can download the PDF here, or visit the online reference guide on the Skeptic website here.