Weekly News and Blog Roundup

Welcome to the latest roundup of the skeptical blogging and news from throughout the week. In this edition I’ll be keeping you up to date with the latest developments in the Libel Reform Campaign, cancer research and even the laws of thermodynamics. We will of course be having a few laughs along the way; I couldn’t help but throw in a couple of fluff stories to get you in the Christmas mood.  

Jesus Would Buy the Acer Notebook

Are you stuck for Christmas present ideas? Well you need look no further. Forget Jamie Oliver, Mr. T and all those other has-beens; the Acer Notebook comes with an extra special endorsement this Christmas.

[Via Friendly Atheist]

BCA vs. Singh: Making Legal History

Last week saw the formal launch of the Libel Reform Campaign. Now the case of British Chiropractic Association against Simon Singh looks set to become a landmark case, with the panel confirmed to consist of England’s two most senior appeal judges. Jack of Kent explains that this development can give no indication of the eventual outcome, but will increase its historic significance. Why not pop to Ladbrookes now and then do your bit to sway the odds in your favour by signing up to the campaign?

[Via Jack of Kent]

Genetic Breakthrough Hails New Cancer Research Era

According to an article in the Telegraph, scientists from a world leading research centre in Cambridge are describing their latest findings as a “transforming moment” in the search for preventions, treatments and cures for lung and skin cancer. It is always difficult for the layperson to gauge the extent to which a story like this may have been overhyped, but one thing is for sure: this can only be good news.

[Via Richard Dawkins]

Atheists Banned From Public Office in Seven State Constitutions

Would you Adam and Eve it? It is against the state constitutions of seven of the United States for a non-believer to hold public office. Fortunately, a little-known document called the US Constitution, clearly states that “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. So there.” Still, Cecil Bothwell’s critics are targeting his Atheism in an attempt to remove him from his position as City Counsellor of Asheville, North Carolina.   

Watch The Rachel Maddow Show’s coverage of the story here.

[Via Atheist Media Blog]

Say it ain’t so, Randi

It appears that even Gods are fallible. James Randi has recently written, rather uncharacteristically, that “the Petition Project [denying man-made climate change] may be valid.” It is not his conclusion that is disappointing, so much as his reasoning towards it. His view that “I believe we simply cannot formulate an equation into which we enter variables and come up with an answer,” seems to give credence to common sense above scientific evidence in a way that is analogous to the argument commonly spouted by creationists that “the human eye is so complicated that I just can’t believe that it happened by coincidence.” In all fairness to Randi, he was careful to express his limited understanding of the relevant scientific theory and has since written a follow-up blog article. Nonetheless, PZ Myers was not impressed. We still love you Randi.

[Via Pharyngula]

Pokémon Pastor

As the Harry Potter series has come to an end, one pastor has decided that he needs another irrelevant craze to frighten children out of. Try to keep a straight face when Jigglypuff makes an appearance.

Watch the video here.

[Via Friendly Atheist]  

Twiggy’s Olay Ad Banned Over Airbrushing

Over 700 complaints have been issued against an Olay advert that featured Twiggy alongside her testimonial “Olay is my secret for drop dead gorgeous eyes”, due to the allegation that the model’s image had been airbrushed. The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld the complaint, forcing Proctor & Gamble to replace the image with one that had not been doctored.

The Advertising Standards Authority examines every case for which even a single complaint is registered, so if you see a company making claims that you do not believe can be substantiated by evidence, let them know.

The Perpetual Motion Machine: Genuine or Hoax?

Hold the front page! Every construction project ever built is liable to collapse; every engine is at risk of explosion; and the very laws of thermodynamics are open to ridicule. Either that or some company you’ve never heard of has just unveiled its latest hoax. Steorn, the company in question, claims to have found a loophole in the way magnetic fields work, which they have used to make a machine that they claim produces more energy than it takes in. Were this to be the case it would violate the First Law of Thermodynamics and turn science on its head, which I’m sure is why you’re hearing about it here rather than on any of the major news channels. Clearly the government has been repressing this research and that of the car that can be powered by dreams, because they want your carbon taxes.

Watch the official promotional video here.

[Via Derren Brown Blog]

Uganda Bans Female Genital Mutilation

Ugandan politics has had a mixed bag recently. On the one hand, MPs have voted to outlaw female circumcision, with anyone found conducting such an atrocity to face a ten year, or life sentence, depending on whether or not the victim should die. On the other, the “Anti-Homosexuality Bill”, if passed, will imprison homosexuals for life and subject HIV positive homosexuals to the death penalty. It is difficult to ignore the role that religion has played in both instances.

[Via Derren Brown Blog]

The True Story of Christmas

No, it’s not all about Ruldoph’s ostracism and Santa’s chimney escapades. It turns out that Christmas has a far deeper story behind it, but you might find that your local church is only telling the abridged version. This website explains some of the fascinating origins of the rituals through which we now rejoice. Beware though; some of it is post watershed material.  

[Via Friendly Atheist]

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Well that’s it for another week. Please feel free to leave a comment and I will do my best to reply as quickly as possible. Until next time, take care of yourself, and each other.

If you come across something through the week that you think our readers would enjoy, send a tip my way at will [at] skeptic [dot] org [dot] uk.

December 18, 2009 at 1:09 pm | Blog Round-up | Comments Off